Lupins (Lupinus spp.) are attractive and prickly, reaching 1 to 4 feet (30-120 cm) in height, and add color and texture to the back of a flower bed. Lupine flowers can be annual and only last one season, or perennial and return to the same spot where they were planted for a few years. The lupine plant grows from a long taproot and doesn’t like being moved. Lupins grow wild in some areas of the United States where they host the larvae of endangered butterfly species. Wildflowers of the lupine plant generally come in shades of blue and white, although domesticated lupins offer flowers in blue, yellow, pink, and purple. Tall, spiky racemes produce lupine flowers that resemble those of the sweet pea plant.
How to grow lupins
Growing lupins is as simple as planting seeds or cuttings in a sunny area with well-drained soil. When planting lupine from seed, scrape the seed surface or soak the seeds in lukewarm water overnight to allow the seed coat to be easily penetrated. Seeds of the lupine plant can also be chilled in the refrigerator for a week before planting.
This can also be accomplished by planting lupine seeds in the fall and letting Mother Nature take over the chilling for the winter. Sowing lupine seeds directly in the fall is perhaps the easiest method. Lupins produce seeds that will produce more flowers the following year if not removed from the growing lupine. Average soil is best for growing lupins. Take advantage of this trait and plant lupins in landscape areas that have not been composted or otherwise altered. Getting More Lupine Flowers To encourage flowering, fertilize lupines with a plant fertilizer rich in phosphorus. Nitrogen-rich fertilizer can encourage leaf growth and do little to encourage flowering. Deadhead spent blooms for recurring lupine blooms.
The lupine plant fixes nitrogen in the soil and makes a great addition to your vegetable garden or any area where nitrogen loving plants are grown. As a member of the pea family, lupins are beneficial in many ways. Now that you know how to grow lupins, add this large, showy bloom to an area where lupine blooms are visible and will act as a backdrop for other blooms in full sun. A flowering ground cover planted under the lupine plant helps keep the roots cool and benefits from the nitrogen in the soil, creating an eye-catching display in the landscape.