Before the 1930s Lupins were nothing special, but the introduction of the Russell Hybrids changed all that. They are now amongst the most popular of all perennials, their large pea-like flowers crowded on to stately spires in a vast range of colours. They are accommodating plants – quick-growing, tolerant of light shade and town conditions, but they are also short-lived. Add peat (not compost) before planting and cover the crowns in winter if your garden is in a frost pocket. Lupins unfortunately have a number of enemies – virus (mottled leaves and brown stems), slugs and mildew.

VARIETIES: The usual practice is to buy a mixture of Russell Hybrids of L. polyphyllus which have been raised from seed. The basic details are height 3-4 ft. Spacing 2 ft.

Flowering period: June-July (and September if the first flush is removed when blooms have faded). Named varieties are available – some are a single colour, such as ‘Lady Fayre’ (pink) and ‘Lilac Time’ (lilac), and others are bi-colours, like ‘Blue Jacket’ (blue/white) and ‘Mrs Micklethwaite’ (pink/gold).

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained garden soil will do – acid land is preferred. Thrives in sun or light shade.

PROPAGATION: Sow seeds under glass in spring or plant basal cuttings (with a few roots attached) in March.

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