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Can lupins be grown in pots?

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Want to grow some gorgeous lupins but only have pot space available to grow new plants in? Can you grow lupins in pots or are they too large? Let’s have a look!

The simple answer is yes they can, and they commonly are. You can grow lupins from seed and then transplant the seedlings into a 10cm pot to establish themselves before potting them onto something larger.

Once your Lupin’s roots are starting to show at the bottom of their seedling pot it is time to move it on into its final pot. Lupins will adapt to any size pot really, but for bigger flower spikes you need bigger pots.

The size of the pot will partly depend on whether the potted lupin is to be an indoor or outdoor lupin. Obviously, you can use bigger pots outside, I would recommend at least a 45cm pot or above. If growing inside then lupins will be happy in anything above a 30cm pot.

Remember that Lupins grow a large tap root so it is not just the width that you need to worry about, but also the depth.

Lupins After A Winter in a Pot
Look at the size difference

I’m going to use the same image above to demonstrate something else but it also works really well for this point too. look at the size difference between the two plants, the one in the little pot is tiny compared to the big pot.

These lupins were sown at the exact same time. This really shows how the size of the pot determines the size of the plant.

It is also advised as with a lot of plants to add a little grit to the bottom of your pot to aid with drainage. Again like most potted plants, they will require feeding, a tomato feed is a good idea applied fortnightly.

Another thing to think about when growing potted Lupins is that they like slightly acidic conditions. This can be provided by rainwater so either leave them in an exposed position or use water from a water butt.

What pot to use?

You can use any pot really, as my earlier photo shows. Lupins will survive in any size pot but the size of the pot will determine the size of the plant and therefore the size and number of flowers.

If you are looking for something easy and relatively cheap then I like to recommend these pots before. They are made of recycled plastic so are nice and lightweight but look like they are ceramic.

Because they are plastic they are also hardy and can be left out all winter with no concerns.

Perfect For Lupins
Lightweight Recycled Plastic Garden Pot Planter W45xH37cm
  • These lightweight planters are made from recycled plastic and are finished with a beautiful glazed effect
  • Made from non-toxic durable recycled plastic, but still look like a realistic colourful planter.
  • At 1.08 kilograms, these pots are lightweight, so be moved around the garden with ease

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03/01/2024 08:43 pm GMT

Where to place your pot

I would suggest a sunny spot, beyond that it’s up to you really. You don’t want somewhere too exposed to the wind as lupins can be damaged by high winds, but as long as it is not really exposed it should be fine.

You can find out more about the perfect position for your potted lupins in my do lupins like sun or shade article.

Overwintering Outdoor Pots

Like most plants grown in pots, Lupins will be vulnerable to frost damage if left exposed in a pot all winter. All the strength of the lupin is in its roots so you need to protect potted lupins over winter. You probably should move your lupins into a greenhouse or cold frame.

I didn’t do this though and left my lupins outside all winter, and they have survived just fine.

Lupins After A Winter in a Pot
Lupins After A Winter in a Pot

These photos were taken in April after they had been left outside all winter. You can see that the lupin in the big pot is looking really healthy and hasn’t struggled at all with being left outside.

Even the little one survived
Even the little one survived

Removing Dead Foliage

As you do when your border lupins start to fade you can cut the growth back in winter. However, with potted lupins, I leave the foliage to die off naturally as I believe it provides a slight mulch to protect from early frosts. How much of an impact this actually has is probably quite small, but it’s an easier thing to do so why not?


Lupins are beautiful flowers that you will find in many British gardens, a staple of the British cottage garden style, famed for both their height and colour.

Originally hailing from the Mediterranean they are a perennial that will greet you with a gorgeous display year after year. They produce a large flowering spike that is full of colour and each plant can have lots of these spikes leading to a fabulous display.

They will begin to flower around may and can last well into June. The flowers do go to seed quite quickly but your lupin will continue to produce more and more new spikes. To get the best out of these spikes though it is essential to deadhead the old spikes to give the new ones a chance to flourish.

Also cutting your lupins back in autumn can help them the following spring. The seeds are edible but if not treated properly first they can be poisonous to animals and humans. Greenfly can be a common problem for lupins here in the UK.

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  1. Thank you for your informative article. I recently bought a lupine at a garden shop in New England, and several days later another. The 2nd plant was in a marked down section, with yellowed, wilted leaves no flowers and broken stems in a disintegrating cardboard pot that was only partially keeping the root ball contained. I took a chance, hoping the flower would be the pretty deep purple of my first plant. The tight flower spike grew but remained tightly closed and white. Oh well, I thought, it was just a couple of dollars. It will be fine… I was pleased to see yesterday morning that the flower is indeed deep purple. I have them both in deep urns with morning and mid day sun. I thought it was my TLC, but know now they thrive in unattended locations. Thank you again for your website.

  2. Thank you Daniel,
    Very well presented and informative article on Lupins.
    I basically knew what you have stated( apart from the acidic soil), but wanted to see what others said about them.
    I have grown quite a few from seed this year so will probably try the large pot method.
    Yes, aphids, slugs and snails are a pain.
    Good luck.

  3. Question I have big glass pots in my yard that I cover every winter with heavy plastic can I plant lupine in those since I cover them in the winter ?

    1. That should be fine Doreen, I didn’t even cover mine this year and they survived just fine!

      1. Hi

        I have a lupin in a large pot and it’s been thriving lovely, however, there is a slight whitish film on the leaves which I think is mildew, have cut these off, how can I protect in the future.

        1. Yes it does sound like mildew.

          There is no surefire way to prevent but here are a few tips for you.

          Avoid watering the leaves. Take out some leaves to try and make more room for air to circulate.

          Water regularly as drought stress makes plants more susceptible.

          Apparently spraying diluted milk on the leaves can help although I haven’t tested this myself.

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