Transplanting Lupines – Complete Guide

Lupines are stunning plants that come in a diverse array of colors. They can be found worldwide and are a fantastic way to add a vibrant feel to your home garden. Unfortunately, these plants don’t enjoy being moved after being planted, but there are a few ways to transplant your lupines more easily when needed.

Transplanting lupines is difficult due to their delicate taproots. The best time to transplant a lupine is in spring before their roots become established, making them more challenging to move. When moved, lupines should be placed in soil with good drainage and adequately spaced from other plants.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the best time to transplant lupines, the proper method for relocating lupines, and some essential care tips for these plants after they’ve been moved. If you want to learn more about caring for and transplanting lupines, read on.

When Should Lupines Be Transplanted?

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Lupines are perennials which means they return every year. Sadly, they struggle whenever their roots are disturbed. Sometimes, moving an established plant in your yard or garden just can’t be helped. So if you must move your lupines, you must know the best time to transplant them.

Lupines prefer to be transplanted during the early spring months, especially if they are new plants. They like to be moved in spring because the plants are still young, meaning they haven’t had time to set down their roots and develop hard-to-move taproots. Plus, the soil is softer due to the winter moisture at the beginning of spring.

That said, you can move them at other times of the year. Just make sure you’re careful when removing the lupine from the soil. The root system will inevitably experience some damage, but minimizing any root disruption is essential so the plant will recover from transplant more easily.

What Are Taproots?

As I previously stated, lupine roots are the main reason they’re so difficult to transplant. Taproots vary from other plants’ root systems due to how they grow into the earth and the texture of the roots.

A taproot is a long thick central root that protrudes straight into the soil with smaller roots snaking out the sides. These roots are typically very thick and difficult to move without damaging because they can become quite long.

Severely damaging your lupine’s taproots can result in the plant going into shock and eventually dying. The best way to keep your plant from going into shock is to be gentle with its roots and get the lupine back into the soil as soon as possible.

The Best Place To Plant Lupines

Lupines are found growing all over the United States. Unfortunately, these stunning flowers have become something of a pest to the residents of Maine since the flower quickly took over and is now considered invasive despite its beauty. But where is the best place to plant Lupines?

Lupines grow the best in gardening zones 7-9 and prefer full sun. However, in warmer climates, they can tolerate partial shade. These plants also require nutrient-rich soil that provides good drainage. Soil with poor drainage will quickly lead to your plants developing root rot.

When transplanting lupines, you should look for a spot in your garden that:

  • Receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day
  • Has soil that can easily drain
  • Soil has a higher acidity
  • Somewhere that isn’t near livestock (lupines are poisonous to most animals)
  • A spot that blocks wind from pushing your plants over

Once planted and settled, lupines tend to grow efficiently. Though these plants enjoy warm, humid locations like those of Louisiana or Florida, they’re relatively cold and drought resistant, which is why they can be found in many gardens worldwide.

How To Transplant Lupines

Since lupines are so stubborn about being transplanted, it’s essential to move them carefully. However, as with relocating any plant, the move can be stressful and result in problems for your lupines. So you must do so correctly.

You’ll need:

  • A small spade shovel
  • A new pot or gardening bed to place the lupines in
  • A hose

If you don’t already have a good gardening shovel, I recommend Edward Tools Garden Trowel (available on Amazon.com). This shovel is fantastic because it’s durable and small enough to maneuver in small pots or garden beds. Plus, it has measurements along its spade to indicate your digging depth.

To transplant lupines carefully:

  1. Prepare the new pot or gardening bed for your lupine’s arrival. The hole should already be dug and ready for the plant to be set in. Getting your lupine back into the soil promptly is vital to limiting the chances of shock. Also, if you’re planting multiple plants, they should remain about 18 inches (45.7 cm) from one another.
  2. Loosen the soil around the lupine gently. The soil needs to be moved away from the plant so you can easily pull the lupine from the earth without severely damaging the roots.
  3. Grip the lupine low to the soil and gently pull the plant from the soil. If the plant isn’t giving, use the spade shovel to dig around the plant’s roots and loosen up the plant.
  4. Place the removed lupine into the prepared hole and cover the roots with soil. The more quickly you accomplish this step, the less likely your plant will develop shock. Ensure that all of the roots have been completely covered with soil.
  5. Water the transplanted lupine. The water will help settle the soil and give the plant something to drink. However, make sure not to overwater your lupine as that can lead to root rot. 

Once you’ve transplanted your lupines in the ground, it’s a good idea to wait a few weeks before fertilizing. The roots need time to heal and settle into the new soil before trying to absorb new nutrients.

Additionally, you need to be patient. Plants that have recently been transplanted need time to recover. Too much water or fertilizer straight after moving can harm your lupines, so prepare to wait and slowly introduce things like fertilizer once your plants begin to grow regularly.

Conditions Lupines Require To Grow After Transplanting

Once your lupines have been transplanted, they’ll require special care as they re-establish themselves in the new soil. Luckily, there are a few ways you can ensure your lupines take to the move more easily and resume healthy growth.

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Gentle Handling of Their Roots

First, as I’ve stated a few times, it’s essential to be gentle with your lupine roots. The large tap roots these plants grow can easily become damaged during the moving process. Plants that have been in the ground longer and are well-established are more at risk of having an issue.

Established plant roots have had more time to grow, are generally more extensive, and have grown deeper into the ground. Unfortunately, taproots have smaller roots that branch out in many directions, which are easily damaged during transplanting. So it’s imperative to move your lupines gently.

The best way to move these plants gently is to:

  • Loosen the dirt around your plant’s roots before pulling it out.
  • Dig in a wide range around the roots to get the plant up.
  • Move slowly when pulling the plant from the soil.
  • Transplant the lupine quickly once it’s out of the earth.

Adequate Spacing Between Plants

Another critical step for caring for transplanted lupines is keeping them spaced properly from one another and other plants. These flowers need space to grow and need to be about 18 inches (45.72 cm) apart.

Selecting a space that isn’t too close to other plants is essential. Large leafy plants can easily block the sun, resulting in stunted growth for your lupines. Also, lupines prefer a garden bed free of weeds, so they don’t have to compete heavily for nutrients.

Soil With Good Drainage

As I previously said, lupines need soil with good drainage, but what exactly does it mean to have good drainage? What makes soil drain well vs. retain unwanted water?

Soil with good drainage isn’t too dense or compact. The soil should be airier to provide better drainage for water. If you aren’t sure about your soil quality, you can always purchase premade soil to mix into yours for ultimate drainage.

When soil drains properly, the earth will dry out between watering rather than pooling or constantly staying moist. Lupines will quickly develop root rot in the earth that is constantly wet or pooling.

Proper Sunlight Placement

Since lupines are huge fans of full sunlight, placement in your yard is everything. However, not all spaces in your yard will receive full sun throughout the day, so it’s essential to do your research and watch how the sun moves throughout your yard daily.

Ideally, lupines should be placed somewhere that gets about 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. More sun is also okay so long as you don’t live somewhere arid with scorching heat. A greenhouse would also work for growing these plants.

Transplanting Lupines
Transplanting Lupines

Occasional Fertilization

As with most plants, lupines can significantly benefit from occasional fertilization. These plants prefer acidic soil.

You can raise the acidity of your lupines soil by adding:

  • Sphagnum moss
  • Conifer needles
  • Oak leaves
  • Coffee grounds

Also, good liquid nitrogen fertilizer can help your flowers grow and bloom more beautifully once they have time to settle after being transplanted.

If you want to learn more about caring for lupines I recommend watching Enviiā€™s YouTube video on lupine transplanting tips. They do a great job of showcasing how to care for recently transplanted lupines and general care tips.

Conclusion

Transplanting lupines isn’t inherently problematic. However, lupine roots are delicate and can pose a significant problem if they aren’t handled gently. In addition, once removed from the soil, lupines need to be placed back into the soil quickly to minimize stress and decrease the chance of the plant’s shock.

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