Lupine, also known as lupin or lupinus, is a genus of flowering plants that belongs to the legume family Fabaceae. Lupines are known for their colourful and showy flowers that bloom on tall spikes. They come in a variety of colours including pink, purple, blue, white, and yellow. Lupines are native to North and South America, but they have also been introduced to other parts of the world.
Lupines are popular ornamental plants in gardens and landscapes, and they are also grown for their seeds, which are used as food and in animal feed. Lupines are also used in erosion control and as a cover crop to improve soil fertility. They prefer well-drained soil and full sun, and they are relatively easy to grow from seed. However, lupines are toxic to livestock and humans if ingested in large quantities, so care should be taken when planting them in areas where animals graze.
How to Grow Lupin Organically
- Select a planting site: Lupin prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Choose a location with good air circulation to help prevent fungal diseases.
- Prepare the soil: Lupin prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. If your soil is alkaline, add sulfur or iron sulfate to lower the pH. Mix in some organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve soil fertility and moisture retention.
- Plant the lupine: Lupine can be grown from seeds or transplants. If you are planting seeds, sow them in the fall or early spring, as lupine requires cold stratification to germinate. You can also scarify the seeds by nicking them with a knife or sandpaper to help them germinate faster. If you are planting transplants, plant them in the spring after the last frost. Space the plants 12 to 18 inches apart.
- Water the plants: Lupine prefers evenly moist soil, but not waterlogged. Water the plants deeply once a week, depending on the weather. Mulch around the plants with straw or wood chips to help retain soil moisture.
- Fertilize the plants: Lupine does not require much fertilizer, but you can fertilize it with a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, once or twice a year. Do not over-fertilize, as this can cause the plants to produce too much foliage and fewer flowers.
- Support the plants: Lupine can grow tall and floppy, so it’s a good idea to provide some support for the plants. You can use stakes or a trellis to keep the plants upright.
- Deadhead the plants: Lupine blooms from late spring to midsummer. Deadhead the spent blooms to encourage the plants to produce more flowers.
- Harvest the seeds: Lupine produces pods of seeds after flowering. Harvest the seeds when the pods turn brown and begin to split open. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant them.
Lupine is a beautiful and hardy plant that can add colour and texture to your garden. With these steps, you can grow your own lupine and enjoy its beauty and benefits.