Lupins are annual or perennial plants with an incredible display of an enormous flowering spike. They grow in various parts of the United States, including Washington, California, Florida, and Texas. Most farmers grow lupins for their beautiful flowers, and a common concern is what to do with the plant after flowering.
It’s best to deadhead lupins after flowering to allow fresh flowers to form and extend their blooming period. Deadheading also prepares the plants for the next flowering season. But, you can also allow the blooms to produce seeds for propagation purposes.
Lupins are a stunning addition to your plants and offer height and color to your garden landscape. If you would like to prolong the beautiful blooms on your lupins, let’s explore the deadheading process and how to encourage your lupins to bless your garden with more abundant flowers.
Also referred to as ‘lupines,’ lupins are ornamental plants that will make your garden a stunning haven with a fragrant ambiance. These gorgeous plants produce flowers in various colors, including blue, white, yellow, pink, and purple. Hence, lupins are attractive to humans, bumblebees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
However, these gorgeous plants have a short flowering season, between May and June. Hence, it’s essential to deadhead your lupins after they’ve started flowering to extend their blooming ‘spree.’
But why is this important?
You should deadhead your lupins after flowering to encourage them to produce fresh blooms. Deadheading focuses the plant reserves on producing new blossoms rather than wasting a lot of energy forming seeds. Therefore, this assures you of a new set of flowers later in the season.
Deadheading is a simple gardening routine that involves cutting back spent flowers. Lupins need this form of pruning to produce a new set of flowers. However, you can also prune your lupins to control aphid infestation.
Lupin flowers grow in composite spikes and start fading from the bottom. Hence, removing the spent flowers keeps the plant blooming throughout the season.
Also, deadheading the plant by removing the bloom from the base (in autumn) prepares it for the next flowering season. However, you should carry out this vital process at the right time and correctly so that you do not damage your plants.
Deadheading prevents lupins from forming seeds, hence eliminating self-seeding. Self-sowing is not preferable when you want to maintain the parental characteristics of your lupins. Also, lupins that self-seed do not produce quality flowers.
Lupins are ready for deadheading when about 70% of the flowers have faded. At this time, most of the flowers—especially at the bottom of the spike will have started forming pods. And this can happen a few weeks from when the flowers appear to autumn.
Complete deadheading is an essential process that allows the plant to save energy for the next flowering season. But since the blooming season is short-lived, deadheading (or deadhead pruning) is also a tactic to make it last longer.
Some people think they should wait for all the flowers in the spike to wilt before deadhead pruning. But, this isn’t advisable. It’s best to start pruning the plant when flowers at the bottom fade, even if those at the top are still fresh.
Removing the lower stems allows the plant to generate new side stems and a fresh bloom set. However, the new flower sets are smaller than the former ones. But, they’ll ensure that your lupins maintain their appeal during the season.
Deadheading lupins involves a few simple steps. Nevertheless, it would be best if you were careful not to damage the plant while carrying out the process. Moreover, it’s best to use the right tools for the task.
Here are a few steps on how to deadhead your lupins that have over 70% spent flowers:
- Locate the dead flower spikes on your plant: It is easy to identify the spent spikes as much of their flowers will have wilted while others will have started forming pods. So, they differ significantly from the fresh flowers at the top of the plant.
- Obtain the materials required for deadheading: While you can snip off the wilted flower spikes, using sharp tools could make the task easier. These include a knife, a pair of secateurs, or scissors. But, ensure that you’ve sanitized them before use to protect your lupins from diseases. Moreover, you must wear gloves to protect your hands from cuts or blisters.
- Deadhead your lupins: Using the secateurs or scissors, cut the entire flower spike from its base just above the new set of leaves from where a new bloom will develop. You can also place a knife just above the last dried flowers on a spike and slide it downwards until you’ve removed all the dried flowers. Although this leaves out the fresh flowers on a spike, it is time-consuming.
Here’s a YouTube video demonstrating how to deadhead lupins in preparation for the next blooming season:
After deadheading prepares them for the next flowering season, taking care of your lupins is essential. You’d want a bigger and more attractive breed of flowers to appear the following blooming season. Hence, it would help if you didn’t neglect them after their flowing period.
Here’s how to care for your lupins after deadheading:
Nutrition is essential for every plant’s growth. But, lupins don’t have many nutrient requirements after deadheading. However, you can ensure the plants have enough water supply – about 1 or 2 inches (2.5-5cm) of water every week. Watering them will enable lupins to survive until the next flowering season.
Nevertheless, some farmers opt to fertilize their lupins as they await the blooming season. For instance, some add high-phosphorus fertilizers since they promote blooming. But, this isn’t mandatory.
Although lupins are attractive to beneficial organisms, they also attack pests. For example, snails and slugs are invaders that attack lupins. Therefore, it’s crucial to control them before they wreak havoc.
You can protect your lupins from snails and slugs by:
- Spraying the leaves with garlic water – in the evening or at night
- Putting a copper tape around the plants – repels the slugs as the tape reacts with their mucus, producing an electric shock. However, it would help if you regularly cleaned the tape with vinegar to avoid attracting the slugs.
- Placing crushed eggshells, sand, or gravel around the lupins – keep snails and slugs at bay since they bruise their soft bodies.
- Planting repellant plants – such as rosemary, lavender, catmint, and ferns
Lupins growing in the garden can survive the harsh winter weather after deadheading. The plants preserve their energy in the taproots buried deep in the soil. However, this will not be the case for lupins planted in containers.
Since they have less soil, potted lupins are more vulnerable to frost. Therefore, it would help if you protected them by placing them indoors in a greenhouse or a sheltered area.
Some lupin varieties are poisonous since the seeds contain a toxic alkaloid called lupanin. The alkaloid causes digestive discomfort to human beings when ingested and birth issues in cows. Hence, many farmers don’t allow their lupin plants to form seeds.
Nevertheless, not all lupin varieties are poisonous. Therefore, you can allow the flowers to form seeds in some instances.
You should allow lupin flowers to form seeds if they’re an edible variety. Moreover, you can let the plants have seeds if you want them to self-propagate or when you need to harvest them for future use.
Also known as ‘In South America, the large lupin pods full of nutritious seeds are traditional food called Chochos. The South Americans repeatedly soaked and rinsed these seeds to create a nutrient-packed food somewhat like a flattened bean.
Today horticulturists have created sweet lupins,’ edible lupin varieties are a delicacy in several parts of the world, including the Mediterranean, Europe, Australia, and South America. People consume them as snacks or additives in dairy products and vegan meat.
Some people also prefer letting lupin flowers grow into seeds for propagation. But, they have a hard, thick testa that you have to soften. So, you can soak them in lukewarm water overnight or chill them in a refrigerator for a week before planting.
Alternatively, you can stratify or scarify the seeds before planting. For scarification, scratch the seed coat using a file, sandpaper, or rough object.
Lupins are beautiful flowering plants that attract humans, insects, and birds. They have a short flowering period, and deadheading prepares them for the next blooming period. But, you can prune them regularly to extend their blooming season or protect them from aphids.
The process is relatively straightforward, and you don’t need to be an expert landscaper to get the best from your lupin blooms. You will enjoy even more flowers on the Lupin’s eye-catching spikes by deadheading.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.