Lupins are flowering plants native to the Mediterranean region and parts of Africa. They are members of the Fabaceae family and are known for their beautiful, colorful flowers and their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. Lupins have been cultivated for centuries for both ornamental and agricultural purposes. In this article, we will discuss how to plant, grow and care for lupin plants in the United States.
Planting Lupin Plants
Lupins can be grown from seed or from potted plants. If starting from seed, it is best to sow them directly in the ground in early spring or late fall. Lupin seeds need to be scarified before planting, which means that the seed coat needs to be broken to allow the seed to germinate. This can be done by nicking the seed coat with a sharp knife or by soaking the seeds in warm water for a few hours.
When planting lupins, choose a location with full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Lupins prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. It is important to prepare the soil by adding organic matter such as compost or aged manure to improve drainage and fertility.
Lupin plants should be spaced about 12 to 18 inches apart to allow for good air circulation and prevent overcrowding. After planting, water the lupin seeds or plants well and keep the soil moist until they are established.
Growing Lupin Plants
Lupins are hardy perennial plants that can grow up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. They are relatively low-maintenance and can thrive in a variety of growing conditions. Here are some tips for growing lupins:
- Fertilize: Lupins are nitrogen-fixing plants, which means they have the ability to take nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that can be used by plants. However, they may still benefit from additional fertilization. Use a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season to promote healthy growth and flowering.
- Water: Lupins prefer evenly moist soil but do not like to be waterlogged. Water them deeply once a week, or more often during hot, dry weather.
- Mulch: Apply a layer of organic mulch such as straw or shredded leaves around the base of the plants to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
- Deadhead: After the flowers have faded, remove the spent blooms to encourage more flowering and prevent the plant from producing seeds.
- Support: Lupins may require staking or support to prevent them from falling over in strong winds or heavy rain. Use a sturdy stake and tie the plant to it loosely to avoid damaging the stem.
Caring for Lupin Plants
Lupins are generally disease and pest-resistant but can be susceptible to some issues such as powdery mildew, aphids, and slugs. Here are some tips for caring for lupins:
- Prune: In early spring, cut back any dead or damaged growth to promote new growth and flowering.
- Monitor for pests: Check the plants regularly for signs of pests such as aphids or slugs. If an infestation is present, use an organic pest control method such as handpicking or spraying with insecticidal soap.
- Treat for disease: If the plants show signs of powdery mildew, which is a fungal disease, treat them with a fungicide.
- Divide: Lupins can become crowded over time and may benefit from being divided every few years. Dig up the plant and separate it into smaller clumps, replanting them in new locations.
Lupin Plants Caring Guides
Here are a few articles you can check out to grow lupin plants.