Can Lupins Be Grown in Pots?

Loved for their spiky flowers and striking colors, lupins are a favorite among gardeners and flower arrangers. They are relatively easy to grow and maintain. However, if you’re short on space, you may wonder if lupins can be grown in pots.

You can grow lupins in pots, but they require larger containers due to their deep taproots. Lupins also prefer well-drained soil, so ensure your pot has drainage holes. For the perfect bloom, place your pot on a spot that gets at least six hours of full sun per day.

While it is possible to grow lupins in pots, it’s essential to understand how to do it the right way. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about growing lupins in pots, from choosing the right container to planting and caring for your plants. Buckle up, and let’s dive right in.

Choosing the Right Pot for Your Lupins

Choosing the right pot size is as important as picking the right plant. Lupins have deep taproots and will quickly become rootbound if they are confined to a small pot. If you choose a pot that’s too small, your lupin will suffer from stunted growth, fewer flowers, and be more susceptible to stress and disease.

The best pot size for your lupin will depend on the lupin variety you’re growing. Dwarf lupins only grow to about 30 cm (12 in) tall, so a 20-25 cm (8-10 in) wide pot will suffice. Taller varieties grow up to 2 meters (6.5 ft) tall and need a pot at least 45 cm (18 in) wide. For the depth, choose a pot that’s 15 to 20 cm (6-8 in) to allow room for the taproot.

As for pot material, terracotta pots are a good choice for lupins since they are porous and breathable. This allows the roots to aerate properly, which is essential for lupin health.

While plastic pots are cheaper, they don’t offer the same level of breathability and can retain high moisture levels, which can cause fungal diseases. They can also get very hot in the summer, further stressing your lupin plants.

As lupins are native to well-drained soils, choose a pot with drainage holes. Lupins will not tolerate wet feet and will quickly succumb to root rot if their roots are constantly sitting in water. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, drill some before planting.

How To Plant Lupins in Pots

Now that you know what size and type of pot to choose, it’s time to learn how to plant lupins in pots. Proper planting is essential to ensure your lupins get off to a good start.

The best time to plant lupins is in the spring after all the danger of frost has passed. The weather during this time is perfect for lupins as they prefer cool temperatures and moist soils.

What You Need

  • Lupin plant
  • Terracotta pot with drainage holes at least 20 cm (8 in) wide and 15 cm (6 in) deep
  • A high-quality, well-draining potting mix
  • Water
  • High-potash plant food

Steps To Follow

Follow these steps for planting lupins in pots:

  1. Fill your pot with a high-quality, well-draining potting mix. You can make your own by mixing equal parts perlite, vermiculite, and compost. Alternatively, you can buy a bagged potting mix from your local garden center.
  2. Wet the potting mix until it is evenly moist but not soggy. Sogginess will cause the roots to rot as they will sit in water.
  3. Create a hole in the potting mix big enough to accommodate the root ball of your lupin plant. This is typically about twice the width of the root ball.
  4. Gently remove the lupin plant from its nursery pot and loosen the roots with your fingers if they are coiled. Lupin roots are very fragile, so handle them with care.
  5. Place the plant in the hole and fill in with the potting mix, gently tamping it down as you go. Avoid packing the potting mix too tightly, as this will restrict root growth.
  6. Water your lupin plant well, ensuring the potting mix is evenly moistened. Avoid getting water onto the leaves as this can encourage fungal diseases.
  7. Place your lupin plant in a spot that receives 6 hours of full sun to partial shade. This could be a spot near a south-facing window, on a porch, or in the garden. If you live in an area with hot weather like South Carolina, Texas, or Georgia, provide some afternoon shade to prevent heat stress.
  8. Add a layer of mulch around the base of your lupin plant to help retain moisture, keep the roots cool, and suppress weeds. A 2 to 5 cm (1-2 in) layer of organic mulch such as wood chips, grain straw, or shredded leaves will do the trick.
  9. Remember to feed your lupin plants monthly with a high potash plant food during the growing season to encourage strong growth and an abundance of flowers. Spread it at the base of the plant and water it well to prevent leaf burn.

Voilà! You’ve successfully planted lupins in pots. All that’s left to do is sit back, care for them, and watch them grow. With a little love and care, your lupins will thrive and fill your pots with beautiful blooms all season long.

Caring for Potted Lupin Plants

Planting lupins in a pot is half the battle. The other half is properly caring for them to ensure robust health, strong growth, and an abundance of flowers. Luckily, potted lupins are not difficult to manage so long as you give them what they need.

Water Regularly

Like all plants, lupins need regular watering to survive and thrive. Water is a critical part of the photosynthesis process and helps to transport nutrients throughout the plant. It also helps cool the roots and prevent heat stress.

The watering frequency will depend on the potting mix, weather, and size of the container. A good rule of thumb is to water when the top 2.5 cm (1 inch) of potting mix feels dry to the touch.

  1. Stick your finger 1-2 inches into the potting mix.
  2. If the soil feels dry or the particles easily fall off your finger, it’s time to water.
  3. If the soil is still moist or sticks to your finger, wait a few more days before watering.
  4. Alternatively, you can invest in a soil moisture meter. These devices measure the moisture content of the potting mix and take the guesswork out of watering.

Avoid letting the potting mix dry out completely. This will stress the plant and cause the leaves to wilt. Conversely, avoid overwatering as this can cause root rot. Aim to water your lupins 2-3 times a week, or more often if the weather is hot and dry.

Provide Adequate Sunlight

Lupins are sun-loving plants and need at least 6 hours of full sun or partial shade with dappled light each day. Lack of adequate sunlight will cause the plant to become etiolated or stretchy, resulting in a weak, lanky plant with few flowers.

A south-facing window, porch, or spot in the garden that receives morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal. Provide some afternoon shade to prevent heat stress if you live in a hot climate (e.g. Florida or Texas). Too much heat will cause the leaves to wilt as the evaporation rate exceeds the plant’s ability to take up water through the roots.

Fertilize Monthly With a High-Potash Plant Food

While lupins don’t require a lot of fertilizer due to their ability to fix nitrogen into the soil through their root nodules, they will benefit from monthly feedings of high-potash plant food. This encourages the development of a robust root system, strong growth, and an abundance of flowers.

You can buy high-potash plant foods at your local garden center or online. Apply the fertilizer at the base of the plant and water it well to prevent leaf burn.

Use a half-strength solution for young plants and a full-strength solution for mature plants. Avoid using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer as this will cause the plant to produce more leaves at the expense of flowers.

Add a Layer of Mulch

Mulching around the base of your lupin plant will help retain moisture, keep the roots cool, and prevent weeds from germinating. You can choose between organic and inorganic mulches.

  • Organic mulches. These are natural materials that break down over time and improve the quality of the soil. Examples include wood chips, bark, leaves, straw, and grass clippings. As they decompose, they add organic matter to the soil, which improves drainage and aeration while providing essential nutrients for plants.
  • Inorganic mulches. These are artificial materials that do not break down over time. They include stones, gravel, and landscaping fabric. While they don’t improve the quality of the soil, they are effective at suppressing weeds and conserving moisture. They also add a touch of aesthetic appeal to your garden.

Whichever type of mulch you choose, apply a layer 2-3 inch (5 – 7.6 cm) deep. Leave a gap of 1 inch (2.5 cm) around the base of the plant and the stem to prevent rotting.

Can Lupins Be Grown in Pots
Can Lupins Be Grown in Pots

Control Pests and Diseases

Although lupins are hardy plants, they are susceptible to a few pests and diseases. When not properly controlled, these can cause serious damage and ultimately lead to death.

The most common pests that affect lupins are aphids, slugs, and snails.

  • Aphids – these small, sap-sucking insects can cause stunted growth, deformed leaves, and decreased flower production. They are often found in large numbers on the undersides of leaves and at the tips of new growth. You can spray your lupins with pressurized streams of water to dislodge aphids or apply insecticidal soap.
  • Slugs and snails – these slimy pests are attracted to the tender leaves of lupins and can cause extensive damage if left unchecked. They are common in wet, shady areas and are most active at night. To control slugs and snails, set out traps baited with beer or apply a thin layer of diatomaceous earth.

The most common diseases that affect lupins are root rot and powdery mildew.

  • Root rot – this fungal disease is caused by too much moisture and poor drainage. The first signs of root rot are wilting leaves, yellowing, and eventually death. To prevent root rot, plant lupins in well-draining soil and water at the base of the plant rather than from above.
  • Powdery mildew – this fungal disease is characterized by a white or gray powdery substance on the leaves. It is caused by Podosphaera xanthii, a fungus often found in humid conditions. To prevent powdery mildew, water at the base of the plant and avoid overhead watering. You can also apply a fungicide to affected plants.


Growing lupins in a pot is an excellent way to add color and texture to your outdoor or indoor space. However, you will need to choose a large enough pot, use well-draining soil, water regularly, and apply a layer of mulch.

You will also need to control pests and diseases to ensure the proper growth and development of your plant. With a little love and proper care, your potted lupins will reward you with an abundance of beautiful blooms.

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