Plant of the week ~ Lupinus (Lupine)

Lupinus botanical art
Lupinus botanical art

This week we take a look at a charming herbaceous plant ~ Lupinus (Lupine). With their distinct finger-like foliage, lupines provide wonderful texture and visual appeal even when they are not in flower. However, when they do bloom from late spring to midsummer, expect to see flower spikes in many different colours ranging from creams and yellows, oranges and reds, to pinks and purples. But it’s not only visual beauty that lupines provide. Read on to learn more about this wonderful species.

Cultivation & Care

Lupinus polyphyllos
Lupinus polyphyllos in many colours

Lupines are another relatively easy plant to grow. While happiest in light, acid soils they will tolerate adverse soil conditions. As far as sunlight goes, they will tolerate partial shade, but the sunnier the position, the happier lupines will be. Lupines can be annual or perennial, depending on the species. There is no maintenance required with this plant, however if you are growing an annual species, when removing the aerial parts of the plant at the end of the growing season, be sure to leave the roots in the ground to break down and release any nitrogen sequestered in the root nodules.

Species

There are many different species and cultivars of Lupinus. See below for a few species you may wish to try growing in your garden.

Lupinus perennis (Sundial Lupine)

Lupinus perennis
Lupinus perennis

This perennial species grows up to 0.6 metres tall and will succeed in any soil that isn’t too poor, however it will also grow well in poor sandy soils if necessary. This species can be prone to slug damage, so be sure to companion plant with plants that deter slugs such as Calendula officinalis or Lavandula sp.

Lupinus angustifolius (Narrowleaf Lupine)

Lupinus angustifolius
Lupinus angustifolius

Much like the above species, L. angustifolius is fairly tolerant of most soils, however it can grow up to 1 metre tall and is an annual, meaning it will germinate, grow, flower and die within one year. But don’t let this put you off as you can sow the seeds produced in it’s pods after flowering to enjoy this plant year after year.

Lupinus polyphyllus (Big-leaf Lupine)

Lupinus polyphyllus
Lupinus polyphyllus

Another perennial species growing taller than both of the aforementioned species, up to 1.5 metres! This species favours similar growing conditions, but strongly dislikes wet winter conditions so be sure to plant it somewhere unlikely to become waterlogged.

Other Uses

  • Nitrogen-fixing plant ~ benefits both itself and surrounding plants by providing additional nitrogen
  • Dynamic accumulator ~ Draws up phosphorous and nitrogen from the soil which is stored in the leaves until leaf fall, where it is added to the topsoil
  • Edible seeds ~ Some species produce seeds which are edible and can be used as a cooked bean substitute

Wildlife & Eco Gardens can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.  Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Wildlife Gardening

A hungry bumblebee visits the flower of a Lupine
A hungry bumblebee visits the flower of a Lupine
  • Great pollinator attracting plant
  • Rich in nectar to feed bees, butterflies and other insects
  • Parasitic wasps take shelter in the plants foliage
  • Lacewings will make use of this plant for laying their eggs

Wildlife & Eco Gardens can help you create a vibrant wildlife garden for you and your family to enjoy all year round. Contact us for more information.

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