Lupins are a British garden favourite, but unfortunately, they are also a favourite of various pests. If you notice something eating your lupins you will need to work out what is eating them before you can fix the problem, so with this in mind I have created this guide to some of the more common lupin pests and how to identify them. This should help you work out exactly what is eating your lupins.
Slugs and Snails
I will start with the most common pest for lupins, the classic slug and or snail. Slugs and snails love lupins and if the plant is young, or just starting to grow again in spring then they can even do enough damage to wipe the lupin out!
Here is a lupin straight from my garden, and as you can see something has been munching on it. The giveaway as to what was eating this plant is right in the middle of the photo. If you look closely you can see a slimy trail all over one of the leaves.
This is the most obvious sign you will see and tells you that slugs and snails have been feasting on your precious lupins.
How to get rid of slugs and snails
So if slugs are your pest, how do you keep them away from your lupins. Well, there are a few options open to you and your choice will depend on whether you garden organically or if you have small children or pets in your garden.
if you just want the best way to kill slugs and don’t care about being organic then just put some slug pellets down around your lupins.
If you have pets or small children in the garden though I would advise against this as the little blue pellets can be particularly attractive to small children and they are a poison after all so this could be problematic.
Nematodes are a type of microscopic roundworm, they are found naturally in UK soils. When they enter the host’s body, in our case slugs, snails and release bacteria. This kills the slug and the nematode then digests the slug’s body.
They also change the slug’s behaviour which causes them to die underground, so you don’t have tonnes of dead slugs lying around on the surface of the soil.
Nematodes are a biological way of killing off slugs instead of a chemical way. As I said they are naturally found in your soil, what you are doing with this product is just greatly increasing the number if your soil for a short duration.
If the nematodes are successful and find slugs to eat they will often reproduce and you will have an ongoing slug eating frenzy in your garden.
Control slugs NATURALLY by applying Nemaslug Slug Killer, which contains natural nematodes, that are effective at controlling slugs, but unlike chemical controls, are safe for children, pets, birds and wildlife.
A beer trap is an organic way of getting rid of slugs. Essentially you set up a cup or saucer buried into the soil with the top of it level with your soil.
You then fill the bottom of the cup with beer. The idea is that the slugs are attracted to the beer and fall into your trap. They then can’t get out and either drown or are removed by yourself from the cup.
while the idea sounds really good on paper I have often found the ineffective and slugs just seem to ignore them.
Lupin aphids can completely takeover a plant, and quickly. As you can see in the photo below, they can completely cover the stem of a lupin plant.
Lupin aphids don’t “eat” the plant per se, but this does not mean that they are not dangerous to the plant. They suck the sap out of the plant and if there is a large enough infestation they will do enough damage to cause the lupin to wilt and sometimes even die.
You want to try and take steps to control aphids as soon as you see a few on your lupin as they can take over really quickly.
How to get rid of lupin aphids
So you’ve found aphids on your lupins, how do you kill them off? I have a few ideas for you below, some organic and some not.
Probably the most common option and also the most effective. You can get organic bug sprays but they are never as good as the non-organic ones.
If you just want to kill the aphids and save your lupins then I recommend the miracle grow bug spray. I have used this spray myself after being recommended it by another gardener and it really does work wonders.
Rose clear, made by the same company can also work well on lupin aphids so if you have some lying around then give it a try.
Kills all major insect pests, including whitefly, greenfly, black fly, red spider mite, caterpillars and lily beetle, scale insects and mealy bugs For use on flowers, fruit and vegetables.
There are lots of old wives’ tales when it comes to homemade aphid sprays which may be worth trying out but I must say I have not used them myself as they never seem to work.
Garlic spray, mix some crushed garlic in a spray bottle with plenty of water, spray directly onto the aphids and wait around an hour before spraying off with regular water to rinse the flowers.
Soap spray is also meant to work well on lupin aphids. Mix some washing up soap with water before applying and rinsing off as above.
Knock them off
Aphids don’t like being knocked off lupins and can struggle to get back up onto the plant. If you regularly knock them off the plant and squash a few then this can help to keep the infestation in check and is about as organic as gardening gets.
Another pest control solution like the nematodes for slugs. Ladybirds love feasting on aphids and a single ladybird can eat thousands of them in a lifetime. So if you have lots of aphids then you don’t have enough ladybirds in your garden, but how can you fix this?
These native British Adalia Bipunctata ladybird larvae have a huge appetite for soft -bodied garden pests such as aphids (greenfly and blackfly), spider mite, scale, mealy-bug etc.
These are live ladybirds in their larvae form. You can apply them directly to the plant where they will immediately get to work munching on aphids. When old enough they will transform into ladybirds and continue munching on aphids, win-win!
More on Lupins
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. 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.