How to plant and grow lupines
Lupins are herbaceous perennials and can be grown from seeds, cuttings or divisions. Each year the lupine’s leaves die back to the ground and new growth emerges from the roots below in the spring.
With the right lighting, lupins can also be grown indoors in containers. To learn more about growing plants indoors, check out our complete indoor gardening guide.
Easy to grow, lupine thrives in cool, moist locations. It prefers full sun to light shade and average soil, but tolerates sandy, dry soil. Plants develop long taproots, so loosen the soil to a depth of 12-20 inches with a rototiller or garden fork. They will not grow in clay.
How to grow lupines from seed
If growing from seed, germination is greatly increased by a 7-day cold treatment (see our article on seed stratification). Place seeds and slightly damp paper towels in a Ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator.
Another method would be to soak them in warm water for a 24 hour period. Treated seeds can be sown directly in a seed bed in spring or summer until August 1.
Sow seeds at a shallow depth of about 1/4 inch under loose topsoil and 12 inches apart and keep them evenly moist until the seeds germinate. Seedlings should emerge about 15 to 25 days after planting.
The best time to plant untreated lupine seeds outdoors is between September and November.
Plants grown from seed will flower in their first year. Pinch off spent flowers to extend the blooming period. Apply an organic fertilizer once a month to promote healthy plants and large blooms.
Tip: For dramatic results, collect lupines in borders or scatter them throughout the cottage garden. Visit our Flower Gardening 101 article for more information.
To grow from cuttings, take a stem down to the trunk, including a bit of its “footprint” connection to the trunk. Plant in moist, very well-drained, gravelly sand or other propagation media.
Keep covered during the propagation period except for several minutes each day to aerate and allow the plant to adjust.
Start cuttings in larger pots that can be transplanted outdoors, pot and all, so as not to disturb the roots.
DO NOT transplant as the long tap root is sensitive, and if damaged the plant will fail.
Instructions for saving seeds
Ripe seed pods explode naturally. When the pods start to turn yellow and the seeds “rattle” inside, they are ripe. Place in a sieve box where they can crack freely and simply pick up the seed. Read more about saving seeds here.