Lupines are in bloom all summer long: what a great addition to the garden! They also have a bit of a nostalgic feel since they’ve been around for so long. As an extra bonus, their brightly coloured flower spikes attract insects.
Bright shining torches
Lupines arrived as garden plants in Europe from North America during the first half of the 19th century. Since then, breeders have developed many new varieties. Even in bud, they’re already attractive. From May to August, their flowering spikes just keep on rising like bright shining torches to light up the garden. Tiny invisible hairs on their leaves catch the water, turning it into glistening pearls. The flowers have a sweet spicy fragrance, and bees and butterflies gather around to drink up this nectar.
Lupines as eyecatchers
The plant’s Latin name is Lupinus which means ‘wolf’. One of the many stories about how the Lupine got its name was that its greyish woolly seedpods look like the coat of a wolf. The plant reaches a height of more than a metre and makes a perfect addition to a mixed border. It’s also a lovely eyecatcher in a narrow front garden growing along the wall. Lupines are good companions for airier-looking plants such as yarrow (Achillea) or Korean aster (Kalimeris).
Lupines don’t require green fingers. The only thing they need is a sunny spot on acidic to neutral, well-draining soil. Lupines grow deep root systems; once a plant is established, it will need watering only during long dry periods. They won’t need fertilisers either. Like many other leguminous plants, they capture nitrogen from the air and store it in their root nodules. If you want repeat flowering, snip off the spent flowers and enjoy new flowers until the end of September.