In the past, lupins were mainly used in agriculture. Today they are rarely to be found there. But you can find them in many gardens, especially in farm and country house gardens. There are around 200 different types, some in very strong colors, others less conspicuous. Their size and growth alone are impressive, especially when planted in groups. The colors range from plain white to pink to purple, but yellow, orange and red hues are also not unknown. Lupins bloom from late May to July. They are grateful and easy to care for perennials, so-called leading perennials, simply because of their size. Garden lupins often reach heights of one meter and more.

Nice varieties

  • Lupinus ‘Russel – Hybrid Edelknabe’ – carmine-red flowers from June to August, height approx. 100 cm
  • Lupinus ‘Russel – Hybride Fräulein’ – brilliant white flowers from June to August
  • Lupinus L. polyphyllus Leguminosae ‘The Governor’ – blue-white flowers from May to July, height approx. 120 cm
  • Lupinus mutabilis var.cruickshankii ‘Sunrise’ – yellow-blue flowers from July to September, height 80 to 120 cm
  • Lupinus nanus ‘Ocean Blue’ – white-blue flowers from June to October, dwarf variety only approx. 45 cm high
  • Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Noble Maiden’ – white, slightly yellow-tinged flowers from May to July, height approx. 90 cm
  • Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Kastellan’ – blue flowers with white eyes from June to August, height approx. 100 cm
  • Lupinus ‘Russel-Hybride Kronleuchter’ – bright yellow flowers from June to August, height approx. 100 cm
  • Lupinus x hybridus ‘Schlossfrau’ – pink flowers from June to August, height approx. 100 cm

Care of lupins

Lupins don’t need a lot of maintenance. They are quite frugal plants. If the location is right, they are well grown and protected from the wind, the inflorescences up to 60 cm long appear at the end of May and flowering lasts into August. Lupins are very frugal and easy to care for and recommendable for every garden. However, one must be careful that they do not multiply themselves too much.


The location is one of the factors that make the lupins feel good and thrive. It should by no means be very windy, because then the stalks bend in the direction of the wind and are no longer upright. When the flower panicle is fully in bloom, such a stalk can sometimes bend and break off. Otherwise, the plants need sun and should by no means get too little of it.

  • Sunny to partially shaded location, at least 3 hours of full sun
  • It is important to have a place sheltered from the wind so that the long stalks do not kink.
  • A warm location is favorable.

Plant substrate

Lupins serve as soil conditioners. You can build nitrogen in the soil with the help of nodule bacteria. That is why they are often plowed under, especially in depleted fields. Otherwise they are very frugal and can also cope with poor soil.

  • Well-drained soil
  • A slightly sandy and slightly acidic substrate is favorable
  • Deep, loose and humus soil is ideal.
  • Soils that are too heavy are unfavorable and should be loosened up with sand!
  • Permanently damp or even wet soil kills the plants.


Lupins are often offered in summer when they are in full bloom. However, it is better to obtain them earlier. Planting is cheaper in April or May, flowering takes longer and you have more of it. Otherwise, lupins are planted like other perennials. You water the plant ball, put it in a sufficiently deep hole, put the soil back in and water it thoroughly. It is not more.

  • Plant either in August or April / May
  • Plant spacing 30 cm
  • It is best to plant in the background so that they do not obscure other plants
  • Larkspur, roses, asters or annual summer flowers are suitable as companions

Watering and fertilizing

Lupins are actually very frugal plants. You can do without water and fertilizer. It looks different with young plants or freshly planted specimens. You have to take care of them for a few weeks before they have grown. In the following year at the latest, the plants help themselves, their roots are long and they draw water from deep layers.

  • Young perennials need plenty of water to grow, around 8 to 12 weeks.
  • Otherwise, allow the soil to dry out a little between waterings, but do not dry out completely!
  • Older plants have very long roots, often longer than the flower stalks are long. They get their water from deep layers of the ground and hardly need to be poured.
  • Fertilizer is not needed because the roots can store nitrogen well.
  • If necessary, fertilize with compost
  • If you have, you can occasionally use pond water for watering, which is also fertilizer.

To cut

You don’t have a lot of work to do with the pruning of lupins. They are grateful perennials. They are cut to the ground in autumn and that’s enough. If you want to prevent the lupins from spreading all over the garden, you have to remove the seed heads before they are ripe. If you want to stimulate a second bloom, you have to cut again in between.

  • Since seed pods form after flowering, the faded inflorescences are not cut off. The pods can be used for propagation right away.
  • However, if you want to achieve a second flowering, which will work well in many years, the flower stalks have to be cut off. Otherwise the plant puts its strength into the ripening of the seeds and does not form new flowers.
  • It is even better to cut the stem about 10 centimeters above the ground. After this cut, water well and also fertilize a little!
  • Cut off a hand’s breadth above the ground in autumn.
  • This can also be done in spring, but you have to be careful not to damage any young shoots or you have to cut very early.


Lupins are usually hardy, depending on the variety down to -25 ° C, some even down to -35 ° C. The plants do not need winter protection.


Lupins have a tendency to self-seed. The seeds are distributed within a radius of up to 7 meters. If you are not careful, the plants will spread all over the garden. In any case, lupins can be easily reproduced by seeds. Division is also possible, but often unfavorable due to the deep root. Cuttings, so-called basal cuttings, are then better.

  • Sow in spring or autumn, but best in early spring (March)
  • One advantage is that genetically pure varieties are created.
  • Seeds must be soaked in warm water for 24 hours before sowing.
  • Then sow directly in the field
  • The first flowers should appear after just two months. However, some varieties do not bloom until the following year.
  • Division is often difficult, but generally possible. With older plants, sharing makes sense especially when they are slowing to flower.
  • In addition, the propagation by basal cuttings is possible.

Basal cuttings are cut out of the mother shrub in spring. When the new shoots appear at the base of the plant and are about 10 cm long, individual ones are carefully cut off at the roots. They are immediately planted in a so-called cold box. Sterile cultivation soil is suitable as soil. After about 6 weeks, roots should have formed so that the plants can be moved into separate pots. In autumn they finally come to the herbaceous border.

Lupins are poisonous plants. The most dangerous are the seeds. Symptoms are vomiting, difficulty swallowing, increased heart rate and circulatory disorders. In severe cases it can lead to cramps, to ascending paralysis up to paralysis of breathing. There is significantly more poisoning in animals, especially in cattle, horses, goats and the like. But it can also catch pets and birds. The symptoms here are salivation, stomach and intestinal discomfort, restlessness, tremors and shortness of breath.

Popular green manure

Lupins are often used as green manure. They are a wellness treatment for every floor. This is because they live in a symbiosis with the so-called nodule bacteria. The bacteria sit on the lupine root. They can bind nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the plant. It even passes it back on to earth. This is why lupins are ideal, especially for sandy soils. They enrich a nutrient-poor soil well. In addition, the roots, which are up to two meters long, loosen the soil and dissolve minerals and phosphates.

Lupins have another specialty. They are related to beans and peas, all of which are legumes. But lupine seeds have no taste of their own. They are very rich in protein, low in calories, lactose and cholesterol-free and are used as a substitute for imported soy. They can be found in a large number of foods, especially vegetarian ones. However, there is another side to this, too. They very often trigger food allergies. However, one does not use the garden lupins for use in food, but a special breed, so-called sweet lupins. The ornamental plants contain toxins.

Diseases and pests

In agriculture, lupins are much more susceptible to diseases and pests than in the garden. The plants are quite healthy and resilient. Powdery mildew is quite common, but there are a number of things that can be done about it. You have to watch out for snails, otherwise they will eat the tender shoots as soon as they shoot and there are no more lupins.

  • Powdery mildew – often in too humid locations or in humid years
  • Snails – especially with young plants – slug pellets
  • Dig up and destroy spots on the leaves and very weak stems – often an indication of viral disease – to prevent it from spreading

Lupins are great flowering plants. There are beautiful varieties. Personally, I think it’s nice to only use one variety at a time, but with plenty of plants. If you plant too many different varieties, it will quickly become too colorful. Other perennials add even more color. In terms of care, lupins are very easy to handle. They hardly do any work and they just look great. However, they only work if not all plants are too densely packed. Lupins are beautiful solitary shrubs with a great effect.

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