Lupins are an attractive part of many cottage gardens and as well as looking good, also have several uses in a permaculture garden. As a nitrogen fixer they can help enrich the soil and they can also help to attract bees to your garden.

Growing lupins:

Lupins can be grown from seeds, which are best sown directly where they are to flower in the autumn. To improve germination rates you can scratch the surface of the seeds to allow them to sprout more easily.

Lupins come in various forms and some are annual, others perennial. Choose a perennial variety for ease and to get a longer lasting display. Lupins will live for around 7 or 8 years on average if given the correct growing conditions.

Lupins like a soil of average fertility, so it is best to plant them on soil that has not been amended with the addition of any composts etc. in recent years. They do not thrive particularly well on extremely chalky, alkaline soils but can be grown in most gardens with a little effort. Lupins should be planted in sun, away from dense shade of trees for best displays.

Lupins are a great addition to a mixed flower border, where they will flower at the right time to hide the dying foliage of daffodils and other early spring flowers. They can then, in turn, be hidden by later-flowering plants as they begin to fade.

Deadhead the lupins to make sure you get strong plants and a longer-lasting display. Never root divide the plants in the autumn as this will kill them, though they can be carefully divided in the spring this is tricky and you are best to grow new plants from seed.

Allowing lupins to self-seed in the right conditions should ensure that you will have a display that keeps on producing beautiful blooms year after year. Adding a phosphorus rich fertiliser will also help to ensure that you have healthy plants with good flowering habits, though you should not use a nitrogen rich feed as this could promote too much leafy growth rather than flowers.

Why grow lupins in the garden?

As a nitrogen fixer, lupins can enhance the soil health in your garden. They will also aid your gardening efforts by attracting plenty of bees and other pollinators. They will create some height in a border and have bright colours that can make the garden really cheerful.

Lupins also make lovely cut flowers for use in the home and can be a great companion plant for nitrogen hungry crops and other plants.

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