Lupins

I admit it.

I’m very excited about the fact that these have flowered for me. This is the first time I have been able to grow Lupins since living in London (and even then I had to grow them in a pot because of the heavy clay).

Despite their ubiquitousness in the last decade or so, it isn’t widely appreciated that Russell Lupin hybrids almost became extinct after the death of George Russell in 1951.

His Lupins all but succumbed to the cucumber mosaic virus and of the 150 or so named varieties that he bred, only a dozen were able to be ‘re-discovered’ during the 1970s and re-bred at a nursery close to where George Russell spent over 20 years perfecting his flowers, so while there these ‘Russells’ are probably not quite the same as the ones bred by the man himself, I am certainly grateful for their reintroduction!

At any rate, I love their glorious early summer display. As I have put them in the most wind sheltered spot of the garden, I haven’t had to stake them. There should be quite a few more blooms this summer and next; in Spring 2015, now that I know what each flower colour is, I shall take basal cuttings of those I like so I can get more of these for years to come.

IMG_0736 IMG_0748 IMG_0794 IMG_0792 IMG_0796 IMG_0798 I didn’t quite get all of the garish colours I had hoped for, but not to worry….I can keep hunting throughout the year. Happy Gardening 🙂

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22 thoughts on “Lupins

    • Thankyou! I tried once in Sydney to grow these, but the winters were too mild to get the few that germinated from seed to flower – I just had leaves for 15 months and by the second summer they had decided that they’d had enough, and dropped dead – I imagine that in Florida you’d need to grow them in front of an air conditioner 🙂

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    • I love them – they are at their best in the first few weeks of summer. I am hoping that the current run of ridiculously warm weather will abate so that I can enjoy the blooms for longer….

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  1. solarbeez says:

    Gorgeous! Do you see any bees on them? I’ll grow (or try to grow) anything that might be attractive to bees. I’m thinking that the deer don’t like lupines, so I can grow them outside the fenced area. How long did it take you to get these? Did you grow them from seed?

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  2. I do see some (although not many) bees on them; they use the flower lip as a kind of landing platform. I grew these from seed which I got from a specialist grower back around February. I stored them in the freezer for a few weeks to trick them into thinking it was winter, and then I was able to plant them in June. None has come true to form from seed, which isn’t a worry for me, I’ll select the flower types and colours I like and then take a basal cutting next October before they start to perish (each plant only lives two years). I might also collect some seed to see what the next variation is.
    I see more honey bees (and bumble bees) on the foxgloves – I know they are deer resistant – but I’m not sure if the honey made would be poisonous from that plant?

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    • I am envious of the fact that you get them growing wild! I suspect that if the seeds/plants weren’t so hard to come by here in Australia, they’d be wild here too (the pea family is renowned for becoming weedy)…

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  3. I can grow almost anything except lupines! These are beautiful! So vigorous and healthy looking. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve given up on them…this makes me want to try again

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    • They have been enjoyable to grow. I’m lucky enough to only get a little bit of snow each winter, so I was able to plant the seedlings out while the slugs and snails were dormant which gave them a fighting chance. But the biggest thing for lupins is light, poor soil: they hate heavy soil, and if the quality is too good, they make big bushy plants and no flowers

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      • I didn’t realize they needed soil like that. Mine may be too heavy and rich. They show symptoms of needing to be watered at a certain growth point and then quickly fade out to being dead. I assumed they were like other perennials . Hmmm— thanks for the information! Now I really think I can get them going

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    • Thankyou. this is the first time I’ve been able to get them to grow and flower for over 25 years, so I can appreciate how tricky they can be. They do seem quite content here: I suppose the combination of cool climate and sandy soils are to their liking 🙂

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  4. I love lupins – they add such majesty to a garden. I love your bright yellow one especially.
    We have quite sandy soil here so they usually do OK, though last year one of my favourite blue and white ones got badly attacked by pea aphids. That has never happened before, but I will be looking out very closely for them next spring and hope to catch them in time.

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  5. I grew a whole vegetable bed for them once as green mulch, but I got sick and couldn’t turn them in so they all flowered. It was worth getting sick just to see the massive didplay.

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  6. Oh, you should not rest until you have all the garish colors. Lupines are uncommon here, though very common in New England. Do they like acidic soil? If so, that would provide some explanation, as we tend to the alkaline. There are some at the Heritage Garden of the Chicago Botanic Garden. I do admire them very much. I like to grow Baptisia in order to get the same sort of pea-like flower.

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    • Trust me I won’t! While there are still some bushes yet to flower, I am hoping for the vivid reds, royal purples and blues 🙂 They do like acidic soil – which I have. Baptisia are a truly beautiful plant, and I’ve not seen them for sale here….not surprising as so many plants in the pea family become invasive in Australia

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