Lupin, Lupines, are native of Southern Europe, The Americas and North Africa and are a genus of annual and perennial flowering gardening plants.
There are nearly three hundred species in this large genus.
Attractive leaves are divided and palmate, light to mid green.
Colourful showy flowers are pea like on long, tall, upright racemes.
In their native habitats they can be found in grasslands, woodlands, along the banks of streams and rivers and a few species can be found in regions by the sea.
Common Names: Lupines.
Classification: Hardy to half hardy annuals and perennials.
Height: From 45cm (18in) for dwarf species to 120cm (48in) for taller species.
Flowering: From mid summer to mid autumn.
Where to Plant?
Lupin are very common gardening plants and can be grown in any bed or border where they will give an outstanding flowering display.
They add colour and form to any planting scheme so grow them wherever you can
Put this plant very high on your must have plants list, in the top three at least.
Where: Ideal for creating a band of colour in mixed borders. Very effective when grown in large groups on their own or in containers.
A traditional English Country Garden plant that adds colour and structure.
If you have a cottage garden then you just have to grow these plants.
They are popular plants for growing in wildlife gardens where they miix well with other wildlife plants.
They are good at attracting pollinators, just what you need for a wildlife garden!
They will happily grow in gardens near the sea, a bonus if you have a seaside garden.
Site: Lupin will thrive in full sun or partial shade or dappled shade.
Soil: They prefer a acid to neutral and well drained.
Propagation Methods By seed
When to plant Lupin Seed ? From early to mid spring.
*(Their seeds have a hard coat that is broken down naturally by moisture in the soil. So you need to soak your Lupin seeds for 24 hours prior to sowing in cold water, to mimic nature, otherwise they will not germinate)
Best germination temperature: 70 deg F.
Time from sowing to germination: 4 – 8 weeks.
Germination can be slow, so be patient.
Or propagate by non flowering side shoots in spring or early summer.
Propagating Lupin by Seed
Sowing Time: Indoors Early to mid spring.
Shallow dish, (coffee jar, or similar, will do just fine), to soak your Lupin seeds in for 24 hours prior to sowing.
Full or half size seed tray/s, (plus inserts – if you are using them), or plant pot/s (depending on how many seeds you are sowing).
25 or 40 cell full size trays, or 12 or 20 half size trays are ideal for sowing Lupin seeds. A thermostatically controlled propagator would be ideal, but it is not essential. You can make do without one.
Clear seed tray cover, cling film, glass (with ground edges – to prevent cut fingers – size depends on tray or pot you are using) or rigid plastic (with filed edges – to prevent cut fingers – size depending on tray or pot you are using).
Plant Label and indelible pencil or pen. (By doing this you will greatly increase your chance of success).
- Potting bench or potting tidy/caddy.
- Mist Sprayer.
Any good quality commercially available multi-purpose compost, or seed and cutting compost.
A peat free compost is ideal.
Filling Trays or Pots with Compost.
Now this is the time to decide if you want to sow your seeds in trays, inserts or pots.
It is also time to calculate how many trays, inserts or pots you will need to sow the number of seeds you are going to sow.
You can sow one Lupin seed in each cell if you use tray cells.
Or as rule of thumb, you could easily sow up to 70 seeds in a full size seed tray, or 35 in a half size seed tray.
Or you could sow 30 Lupin seeds in a 10cm X 10cm (4in X 4in) square pot.
So you’ve successfully sorted out how many Lupin seeds you are going to sow and what you are going to sow them in.
Now, sieve enough compost, on to your potting bench, or potting tidy/caddy, to fill all your trays or pots.
Don’t discard the sieved out lumps and bits. These can be used in the bottom of larger patio pots when planting them up with your own home grown plants. (Save the lumps and bits in an old compost bag until needed).
Fill the seed tray/s or pot/s with compost to about 5mm below the rim (this does not need to be exact – about 5mm will do). Lift the tray or pot to a height of about 15cm (6 inches) and gently tap it on the bench. Do this about three times. This will settle the compost into the tray or pot to about the correct level.
The compost should now be about 10mm (1/2 inch) from the top of the tray or pot. This does not have to be exact so don’t worry if it is a couple of mm higher or lower. It will make no difference to the end result.
Take your correct size tamper and gently level the surface of the compost. DON’T push the tamper with any force. All we want to do here is level off the surface of the compost, NOT compact it.
*This gives an ideal surface to sow the seed on. *(Doing this correctly will increase your propagation success rate).
That’s it. You have now successfully filled your first tray or pot with compost.
Now Fill the rest of your trays or pots in the same way
Sowing Your Lupin Seeds
This is the fun part, sowing your seeds.
Did you remember to soak your Lupin seeds for 24 hours?
If not you need to soak them in cold water for 24 hours prior to sowing to break down the seeds hard coat.
Lupin seeds are quite large and are easy to handle.
You can quite easily sow one seed into each cell of your cell trays. Or sow them into your trays or pots.
If sowing in trays, half trays or pots make sure you get the seeds spaced out. Don’t bunch them up.
Very gently press the seeds into the surface of the compost.
There you go see how easy it is?
All that is needed now is to cover the seeds with a “dusting” of sieved compost. Just enough to cover the seeds and no more.
When you have sown all your seeds don’t forget to label them with plant name and date of sowing.
Water your trays or pots with great care.
With you mist sprayer, set at it’s finest spray, filled with tepid water and held at about 100mm (4 inch) from the pot or tray, lightly spray the surface of the compost. Don’t get to close, or overdo it here, you will disturb the seeds which is exactly what you don’t want to do!
The idea is to settle the surface of the compost with the fine mist from your sprayer. This prevents the seeds being disturbed.
Now fill a container, large enough to put the tray or pot in, with tepid water *(preferably water that has been standing in a warm place for about twenty-four hours) and definitely NOT rainwater, use good old tap water!
Stand the tray or pot in the container of water and leave it until you see the surface just becoming moist.
This usually happens fairly quickly so don’t be tempted to go off and do something else.
*Do not overdo the watering process, you don’t want the compost saturated, or your seeds may rot and not germinate.
*(By doing this correctly you will greatly increase your chance of success)
Cover your trays or pots with glass or clear plastic (or preferably, for ease of use, place in a propagator – unheated will do).
Keep your tray or pot in the light, (not direct sunlight) and maintain a temperature of 10C to 15C (50F to 60F).
When your seeds have germinated and are large enough to handle transplant them into individual 8cm (3in) pots.
Be very careful handling the seedlings. Do not handle them by their stems as this will cause irreversible damage resulting in the seedling collapsing.
Handle the seedlings very gently and only by their leaves.
If you have used the cell trays gently push the seedling out complete with all its compost and transplant into the 8cm (3in) pots.
If you used trays, half trays or 10cm X 10cm (4in X 4in) pots, gently tease the seedlings seedlings out with great care ensuring not too many roots are damaged. Time and care taken hear will really pay dividends giving your seedlings the best possible chance of growing on successfully.
Use a good quality potting compost to transplant them into. A sieved peat based or peat alternative compost will be fine.
When you have transplanted all your seedlings don’t forget to label them with plant name, sowing date and transplanting date.
Water your trays or pots with great care.
Fill a container, that is large enough to put your seed tray in, with tepid water *(preferably water that has been standing in a warm place for about twenty-four hours) and definitely NOT rainwater, use good old tap water!
Stand the tray of seedlings in the container of water and leave it until you see the surface just becoming moist.
This usually happens fairly quickly so don’t think about going of and doing something else.
*Do not overdo the watering process, you don’t want the compost saturated, or your seedlings will rot and die.
*(By doing this correctly you will greatly increase your chance of success).
Keep the transplanted seedlings in good light (not direct sunlight) until they are large enough to be harden off. Nice healthy Lupins grown from seed in a square pot.
This is an ideal way of growing plants such as Lupin from seed.
Grown in square pots or cell trays is a highly recommended way of growing plants such as Lupin from seed and is much preffered to sowing in trays or half trays.
Remember this when you come to sow your Lupin seeds. It will increase your chance of success!
Plants should be gradually hardened off by placing them outside, in a sheltered position, during the day.
A cold frame with the lid open is ideal for this. If it is very cold during the day close the lid, but watch out for excess condensation.
If there is excess condensation prop the cold frame lid open slightly until the condensation disappears.
Bring them in at night to avoid severe frosts.
Make sure it is after the last frosts before planting them out in your garden.