This group of sub-shrubs, herbaceous perennials and annuals has hardy and half-hardy members grown for their impressive, spire-shaped displays of small flowers in shades from white, cream and yellow, blue and red.

Suitable site and soil. Pick a sunny position and a soil that is light, sandy, porous and perhaps slightly acid, not alkaline. They look good planted in groups in borders where their imposing display of flowers can stand out.

Cultivation and care. Plant out from autumn to spring. Take off faded part of flowering stems to promote flowering and cut back flowering stems after flowering.

Propagation Sow fresh seeds of annuals in autumn or take cuttings from named varieties in late spring. Raise – – , arboreus from seed or semi-ripe cuttings in mid summer.

Recommended varieties. Most lupins grown are hybrid varieties of what is known as the ‘Russell Strain’ (crosses between L. polyphyllus, L. arboreus and other species). The usual height for these is about lm – 3ft and many have petals in different colours; flowers are produced in late spring and summer. They are often sold as mixed-colour seed selections with names such as ‘Russell Mixed’ or ‘Band of Nobles’. L. arboreus (tree lupin) is often grown and is a large, almost shrubby perennial with a semi-permanent, woody framework. The yellow, fragrant flowers are borne in early summer.

Pests and diseases. Usually no trouble from pests but perennials are prone to viral and fungal ailments.


With their tall, dense racemes of flowers, lupins make striking plants for large displays. They can be used in the display as both vertical elements and, in shortlived centrepiece displays, horizontally.

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