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Lupinus polyphyllus, as the garden lupine is scientifically correctly called, attracts attention with its colorful, large flower candles. Lupins need a suitable location so that you can admire this splendor extensively.

In a nutshell

  • preferably sunny location
  • At least three hours of sun a day in semi-shady places
  • a place in the garden with little wind, otherwise the tall stems snap easily
  • leave enough space between the plants, air must be able to circulate
  • poor, loose soil with a slightly acidic pH

Lupins feel at home here

As with all perennials, you can of course also change the location of garden lupins. This is especially recommended if the previous lupine location is not optimal or you want to share specimens that have become too large. The best time for such a project is early autumn. However, it is better to ensure the best possible growth conditions from the outset. The following six criteria will help you to find the right place in the garden.

Lupins, Lupinus

Sunny location

The ideal lupine location is as sunny as possible - the more sun shines on the perennial, the more beautiful and lush it blooms. In principle, the plants also thrive in partial shade, but then they need at least three hours of full sun a day. Otherwise, they remain significantly smaller than normal and form only a few flowers or even no flowers at all.

No wind

Under optimal conditions, garden lupins can grow to a height of between 80 and 120 centimetres, with the flower heads alone being up to 50 centimeters long. These long shoots are not particularly wind-stable, which is why you should choose a sheltered, windless location for the perennials. If it's too windy, the stalks quickly snap or grow crooked. If such a lupine location does not exist in the garden, the long shoots can be stabilized with a flower support or a perennial holder.

Tip: Nevertheless, lupins must not be too close together, you should leave a distance of about 50 centimeters between the individual plants. This allows the air to circulate, which counteracts infection with fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.

lean soil

Garden lupins are the right choice for lean, sandy soil: The plants accumulate plenty of nitrogen in their roots, which is why they are also often used for green manure - they can be used to improve nutrient-poor soil in a natural way. Conversely, the perennials do not need a nutrient-rich substrate. They ultimately take care of themselves.

Permeable, loose soil structure

The legumes are also sensitive to heavy soil and the waterlogging that often occurs, although their strong roots can basically penetrate solid soil well. The soil must not be too wet, this will inevitably lead to the death of the plant. A sandy, loose and well-drained subsoil is best suited as a lupine location - this is where the plants feel most comfortable and bloom particularly beautifully.

Tip: However, a loamy, less permeable soil can be improved with the addition of plenty of sand. Dig a generous planting hole, fill the bottom with a layer of sand several centimeters thick and mix the excavation with sand as well. Then you can plant the lupins.

Low pH

Garden lupins love a slightly acidic pH value, which is preferably between 5.5 and 6.5. You can easily check the pH value of your garden soil with a simple strip test from the pharmacy or hardware store. If it is too high, mix the excavation from the planting hole with some rhododendron soil or leaf humus.

No lime

Like so many plants that need acidic soil, garden lupins only tolerate a little lime. Therefore, only a soil with little or no lime should be selected as a lupine location. In addition, only soft rainwater or well stale and filtered tap water should be used for watering - otherwise the lime contained in it will accumulate in the soil and gradually raise its pH value.

Lupine 'Schlossfrau', Lupinus polyphyllus

frequently asked Questions

Can I also cultivate lupins in pots?

If you choose a sufficiently large and stable planter - this should be deep rather than wide and made of heavy material such as clay - ornamental lupins can also be cultivated very well as potted plants on the balcony or terrace. Give preference to varieties that stay as low as possible, these are easier to hold in the bucket and do not buckle as quickly. The perennials also need a sunny spot in pots.

Are lupins annual or perennial?

The pretty ornamental lupins are perennials that sprout again every spring and will delight you with their eye-catching flower clusters for many years. The plants are hardy and robust, only last year's shoots should be cut back in spring. Potted lupins also need winter protection, for example by wrapping the planter with fleece or something similar.

What do I do after flowering? Cut off or leave faded flowers?

Lupins bloom between May and June, after which dark, seed-bearing pods develop from the fertilized flowers. If you cut back the faded stems before fruiting, the plants will develop a late second bloom by August. On the other hand, if you leave the faded flowers standing, the perennials will reliably self-seed.

Are these plants actually poisonous?

The ornamental lupins usually offered for the garden or the pot should not be eaten, they are poisonous due to the bitter substances they contain (alkaloids, such as lupinine and sparteine). Even the consumption of a single seed pod can cause symptoms of poisoning such as tachycardia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dizziness. If you want to grow the plants for consumption, you should use the non-toxic sweet lupins. Their seeds are very rich in protein.

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