Lupins provide a stunning flowering display which is what makes them so popular with gardeners up and down the country. but what do you do with lupins once they have finished flowering and the slower spikes are starting to die off? Let’s have a look below.
What can you do with lupins after flowering?
You have two main choices for what to do with your Lupins after they have flowered, to begin with, you can deadhead the flower spike.
This will encourage new flower growth giving you another beautiful floral display and extending the flowering season of the lupin.
Or, you could let the flower go to seed. You can then grow new lupins from the seed pods. Just be aware that lupins don’t grow true to seed.
What this means is that the plants you grow from seed will not always be the same as the plant the seeds came off.
So if you get some seeds from a red flowering lupin it does not mean that the plants you grow will end up with red flowers.
If you want to get an exact match you need to either grow a new plant from a cutting or split the roots of the existing plant.
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!
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.
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.
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.
This is what the finished result looks like.
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.
How To Save Lupin Seeds
Follow the steps below and you too will be able to enjoy free lupins grown from your own seed pods.
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.
I like to put them in these old coffee cans as they are nice and dry, a paper envelope can work well too.
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.
Getting your lupin ready for winter
After dealing with the flower spikes you need to start getting your lupin ready for winter. as the autumn nights start drawing in it will be time to think about cutting your lupin back.
To help your Lupin survive the cold winter nights it is highly advisable to cut it right back to base in late Autumn.
While this may seem harsh the plant will be just fine as all its energy will be stored up in the roots. The plant will then be ready to explode back into life come spring, bringing you better than ever growth and flowering.
You should always remove and clear the foliage yourself if possible rather than letting it die back and lay there.
If you leave this foliage on top of your lupin it will turn into a wet soggy rotting mess right above the roots of your plant. This is the perfect combination for disease to spread to your plant.
So remove the foliage yourself and then stick anything you cut off on the compost heap or your gardening waste bin.
Overwintering your lupins
The vast majority of Lupins will be just fine left outdoors over a British winter. It is worth noting however that pot-grown lupin will be more vulnerable to frost, as all pot-grown plants are, so moving them into a greenhouse or another sheltered spot is advisable.
The heart of your lupin plant is deep down in the roots so they survive cold spells just fine when left in the ground.
When in a pot, however, the heart of the plant is beneath much less soil, particularly from the sides and as such can end up getting frozen.
Did you also know that lupins can self-seed into your soil! So keep an eye out for any little seedlings the following spring growing around your lupins.
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.
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. What kind of display you get depends on how far apart you plant your lupins, you can have compact swathes of lupins or plant them further apart as individual plants.
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.