Growing Lupine Flowers: Tips for Planting and Cultivating Lupines.
Written by: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Cultivate an EMERGENCY Garden
Lupines (Lupinus spp.) are vibrant and spiky plants that can reach heights of 1 to 4 feet (30-120 cm.) and add color and texture to the back of flower beds. Lupine flowers are either annual and last only a season or perennial and will persist for a few years in the same location where they were sown. These plants grow from lengthy taproots and do not appreciate being transplanted.
In some regions of the United States, lupines are found wild, providing host plants for larvae of endangered species of butterflies. Typically, these wildflowers come in shades of blue and white, although domesticated lupines are available in blues, yellows, pinks, and purples. The lupine plant produces tall, spiky racemes that bear flowers similar to those of the sweet pea plant.
How to Cultivate Lupines
Growing lupines is an easy process - simply plant seeds or cuttings in a sunny area with well-drained soil. When sowing lupine from seed, scratch the surface or soak the seeds in lukewarm water overnight to make it easy for the seed coat to break. Lupine seeds can also be refrigerated for a week before planting if you aim to stimulate growth. Alternatively, you can directly sow lupine seeds in the autumn, allowing nature to take its course over the winter. Lupines multiply, producing seeds that will yield more flowers the following year if left on the growing plant.
Lupines thrive best in average soil and flourish in areas that are not composted or amended in any way.
Encouraging More Lupine Flowers
Encouraging blooms is simple - fertilize lupines with plant food high in phosphorus. On the other hand, nitrogen-rich fertilizers may lead to leaf growth without promoting flowers. To encourage returning blooms, deadhead spent flowers.
Lupine plants are nitrogen-fixing, making them ideal for vegetable gardens or any area where nitrogen-loving plants are grown. A member of the pea family, lupines have many benefits.
Now that you know how to cultivate lupines, consider adding this tall, showy flower to areas where they will be visible and act as background for other full-sun blooms. Planting a flowering ground cover beneath lupine plants can keep roots cool and will benefit from the nitrogen in the soil, creating a stunning display in the landscape.
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