How To Deadhead Lupins
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How to deadhead lupins

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Lupins are gorgeous, but alas their flowering spikes can begin to disappear all too soon. Don’t panic just yet though. Regular deadheading of your lupins can provide additional flower spikes, letting you enjoy this gorgeous flower for much longer. Read on to find out how to deadhead lupins.

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How to deadhead lupins

First, locate the dead spike, they are really easy to spot as the flowers will have turned to pods. This will happen a few weeks after flowering all the way up into the autumn. They look like furry pea pods. You then follow the stem down to where they meet with some new growth and snip!

Lupin to be deadheaded
Lupin to be deadheaded

Use a pair of sharp secateurs, scissors or a sharp knife to deadhead your flower spike leaving the leaves well alone. You can continue to deadhead your lupins throughout the summer.

Cut With Secateurs
Cut With Secateurs

While obviously not needed to deadhead lupins we have a great article testing loppers, check it out here if you are planning on pruning anything large!

Some people also remove the dead flowers from a spike from the bottom up. This is more labour intensive than just removing the spike but does tidy your plants up a little.

Lupin Spike That Is Dying Off From The Bottom
Lupin Spike That Is Dying Off From The Bottom

You can use a sharp knife and just slide it down the side of the stem and all the dead flowers will easily come away from the plant.

Slide A Sharp Knife Down The Stem
Slide A Sharp Knife Down The Stem

This is what the finished result looks like.

With Dead Flowers Removed
With Dead Flowers Removed

I don’t personally do this as it is just too time-consuming but if you want to then go ahead, it makes the plant look neater.

Leaving some spikes to seed

If you want some seeds to sow some new lupins then you can tactically leave some spikes that have gone to seed. You can then harvest these seeds later in the season to grow fresh lupin seedlings. Lupins are perennials so saving the seed pods is not essential.

They have a strong taproot which can survive in the soil over winter and then burst back into life in the spring stronger than ever. Due to these strong roots, you can rely on your lupins coming back year after year.

However, they are not the longest-lived perennial which is why many gardeners do like to harvest the seeds, grow fresh seedlings and have some succession planning in mind.

Some gardeners also transplant lupins and break up the roots as this can reinvigorate them setting them up for future growth. This method is called plant division and can be done with both garden-grown and container-grown lupins.

Why deadhead lupins?

As gardeners, we deadhead any flower to prolong its flowering season. By design, a plant will begin to put its energy into creating seeds rather than flowers once it has had one good display. We want to avoid this as much as possible and extend their flowering time.

By taking away the dead flowers which are turning to seed we take away the plant’s ability to put its energy into the seed.

The plant will then focus on creating new blooms as this is its only way now of creating seed. You can repeat this cycle to extend the flowering season by months. The flower spikes of this cottage garden plant make it easier than most to deadhead as the flower heads are all in one place.

So, Should You Deadhead Lupins?

Yes, you definitely should!

Regularly deadheading lupins will mean the plant creates more flowers, and as such it will flower for a longer period of time.

With lupins, the second bloom is never as big as the first one but it is still well worth it. Who doesn’t want their lupins to flower for longer?

What to do with the deadheads

You can chuck them on the compost heap or if you aren’t lucky enough to have a compost heap yet then they can go in your garden waste bin or be tucked away in a hidden spot in the garden and left to rot.

Lupinus Perennis

This traditional cottage garden favourite is a beautiful flower that you will find in many British gardens as well as in huge drifts in the wild. Originally hailing from the Mediterranean They are a perennial that will greet you with a gorgeous display year after year.

Not a hugely long-lived perennial expect them to last in a British garden for around 6 years, they can last much longer in perfect conditions, however.

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.

It is essential to behead the old spikes to get the best out of these spikes to give the new ones a chance to flourish.

The vibrant colours of the beautiful flush of flowers are known to attract flocks of birds and butterflies, just one of the reasons they are a cottage garden favourite along with other staples such as delphiniums.

Russell lupins are the most common variety found in gardens these days, this variety is more resistant to slugs, snails and other pests while still providing gorgeous lupine flowers.

Lupins in full bloom
Lupins in full bloom

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10 Comments

  1. Hi thank you so much. Very helpful. Please can you tell me what I should do with the seeds? We have wasteland at the back of our garden, if I leave the seeds there will they grow? Thank you

    1. Hi, yes they will. For the best chance of survival take the seeds and store them in a dry dark spot until next spring. Then scatter them around or grow as seedlings before planting out.

  2. Hiya, as a novice gardener I have found your site really handy and informative for lots of tips on improving my plant knowledge and gardening skills. Thank you

    1. Thanks Sue! Thats really nice to hear. Keep checking back as I have a lot of plans for new articles to write soon!

  3. My association says weeds are from old lupine I was saving them for next year There’s a fine involved. Are thy considered weeds?

    1. Definitely not over here in the UK where they are grown as flowers and sold in garden centres. I do believe they are invasive in some parts of the world however.

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