The Romans introduced lupins to England – they grew annual lupins as food for animals and to enrich the soil.
Lupins have been grown in English Gardens since the 16th century. The annual lupin L. albus was the first lupin grown in England and was listed in “A New Herbal”, 1568 by William Turner.
There are over 250 species of lupin and they all have tall spires of pea-like scented flowers.
The colours now vary from pure white, creams, yellows to blues, reds and bicoloured.
If you want to grow the more old fashioned varieties go for the purple and blue flowering ones. All are excellent for an English Garden.
L. arboreus (tree lupin) don’t worry it isn’t a tree but a woody evergreen shrub with loose mounds of foliage and softly fragrant flowers. It can grow to 6ft and will flower from late May until September. They come in white, lemon, violet and lilac flowers.
How to grow Lupins
Lupins are easy to grow
They prefer a soil that is slightly acidic that is lime-free,
Well drained soil that is moderately fertile and not too clayey. Water them daily in dry spells.
A sunny spot or one in partial shade.
Annuals can be sown from seed - sow the seeds where they are to flower and they will bloom the same summer.
L. pusillus has rose, purple or white flowers and is suited to drier soils.
Hardy perennial lupins are easy to grow from seed. It is best to soak the seed in warm (not hot!) water for a day before sowing.
They can be sown in pots and kept indoors in early spring and can be planted out in early autumn or spring for summer flowering. If you sow the seeds outside then do this in the autumn.
Please remember that lupin seeds are poisonous and should not be eaten.
Perennials can be propagated by dividing in spring.
If you are short of space then lupins will grow well if planted in pots and containers – just remember to give them good drainage and water in the evenings if the weather is hot.
Tree lupins are easy to grow they like a sunny spot– only disliking soggy soil.
In the language of flowers lupin means admiration or voraciousness and imagination.
Varieties to look out for
Russell lupins (perennials) come in a range of bright colours and reach 3ft or 90cm.
Dwarf lupins (annuals) sometimes called pixie lupins, grow to 12 inches or 30cm
Lupin Blue Bonnet is a hardy annual with gorgeous blooms of pinky white or blue - they look especially good if planted in large groups.
Enjoy your garden!