Lupins are a beautiful flower that you will find in many British gardens. Lupins are a staple of British cottage gardens, 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.
Can you grow lupins from the seed pods?
Yes! Lupins can be easily grown from the pods left behind after their vibrant flower display. Read on to find out the best way to grow your lupins from seed pods and a few helpful tips and tricks.
Wait until the seeds begin to brown
The first step to growing lupins from the seed pods is the harvesting of the pod. You want to select a few of the spikes that you intend to leave to go to seed while the plant is still actively growing, I normally choose one of the bigger ones and deadhead all of the others. The seed pods will be green at first, do not harvest them while they are green, this is too early. You want to leave the spike with the seed pods on the plant until they turn brown.
Leave in a cool dry spot
Now move the full spike with the pods into a dry spot, a shed is a perfect place for this. You want to leave the pods plenty of time to dry out. They will begin to dry and crack, the seeds will then pop out on their own.
Wait until spring
Now that you have your own homegrown seeds you want to wait until spring before you start germinating them.
Stratifying the seeds
Stratifying seeds is essentially cold shocking them, and is essential to growing certain seeds. Lupins do well after being stratified, this can be easily done by putting them in the freezer over winter. An even easier method is to plant your lupin seeds in soil over winter, they will then be naturally stratified.
Growing lupins from seed
Soak the seeds
Soak your lupin seeds in water the night before you intend to plant them, this will aid in the germination process.
Sow in seed trays
I always like to sow lupins in seed trays. You can use any general compost and begin sowing in middle to late February depending on the weather. Sow in a greenhouse or on a window sill if sowing in early spring. If sowing later in the year you can try sowing directly to the ground although I have never used this method. One easy way of sowing lupins is to sow directly into the soil in the autumn or winter for growth next year. Lupins are self-seeders so this is essentially mimicking their natural cycle and they normally do quite well when grown like this.
When the seedlings have begun to establish themselves you can start to think about planting them out. Established can mean different things though depending on your location, the weather and also pest level in your garden. Slugs in particular love munching on lupin seedlings, you can plant out a full border of young lupins and find them gone by the next morning. If slugs are a particular problem in your garden I would advise potting the young lupins on and keeping them in a greenhouse until they are more established. With this method though you don’t want the lupin to grow too “leggy”. This is when they grow tall and dangly due to over optimum conditions within the greenhouse. Leave them out of the greenhouse during the day bringing them in at night to avoid this.
Caring for lupins
Lupins are well adapted to the UK climate and grow well in most soils, so there isn’t too much you need to do to care for them. There is a good reason lupins are now considered an invasive species in New Zealand! There are a few simple steps to take however to achieve the best display for the entire summer.
Deadheading lupins is essential to getting flowers for the entire summer.
Cutback in autumn
When autumn comes around and your lupins have finished their annual display it is time to cut them back. While this may seem like a drastic step, particularly the first time around, they will come back stronger and thank you for this display of tough love. You can cut them right back to the base in autumn, they will store their energy in the roots and come back bigger than ever next spring.
Dividing your lupins
Lupins are a great plant to divide up. This can be done after a few years, it both gives you new plants and helps extend the life of the original plant. You don’t need to be too careful with this, just split with a spade and replant.