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Why do lupins change colour?

Lupins are a fantastic perennial flower to grow in the garden and some growers think they have noticed something very unusual about them, the flowers like to change colour. But why do lupins change colour? Let’s have a look and find out exactly what is going on and work out if lupins do change colour.

Lupins in bloom
Lupins in bloom

Why do lupins change colour?

The truth is that lupins don’t change colour, well not to the extent of a yellow lupin becoming blue. There may be subtle shading changes where what was a vivid red may become paler over the years but a drastic colour change shouldn’t be visible.

This doesn’t mean that lots of growers don’t swear down that their lupins have changed colour. This is not something I have experienced myself so can’t comment on it myself.

What a lot of nurseries and experienced lupin growers do say though is that this is almost certainly down to the lupin self-seeding and the new coloured lupin actually being a different plant.

Lupins don’t tend to stay true to colour when grown from seed and often revert to more blue/purple shades. The only way to get a true replica of a lupin plant is to grow it from cuttings.

Because of this many people speculate that what you might think is a colour changing lupin is actually a new younger plant growing in the old plant’s place.

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.

Lupins in a border
Lupins in a border

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.