Lupins produce their spires of flowers quite early, from May to July, hiding the dying foliage of spring-flowering bulbs with their lush mounds of leaves. They come in every colour of the rainbow, bringing height to the border before your delphiniums, hostas, and peonies take over in Summer. Mass them in formal ranks for a powerful statement, or use them singly and in threes to stand guard in the middle or back of a cottage-garden display.
The modern varieties have returned lupins to favour in garden design, adding plenty of oomph to the border, introducing height, bold colour and scent; the bees love them too.
In common with a number of other plants that have tall flower spikes (delphiniums, hollyhocks), lupins are relatively short-lived perennials, rarely lasting more than five years. They do not come true from seed, and so need replacing.
Our plants in 2 litre pots are the ideal size for transplanting, forming a better root structure than older ones. Lupins prefer neutral to mildly acidic soils that have decent drainage and are not too rich. They can handle some shade, but flower best in full sun, and do well in windy spots by the sea.
Lupins are in the pea family and fix nitrogen into the soil, which helps them to grow in desolate places: a common name for their wild form is wolf bean, like their botanical name Lupinus. Wild lupin seeds were cooked and eaten in the past, probably in quite small amounts, but this is no longer possible with modern varieties, so please do not eat any part of them.
Westcountry lupins were bred by Sarah Conibear of Westcountry Nurseries in Devon. They are regular Gold Medal winners at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, causing a wow with their fabulous colour combinations on the nursery's stand. In 2021, they were among the top 10 plants sold. They have the best form, colours, and will only need staking in really exposed locations.
Sarah's original lupin seeds were from her friend Johnny Walker, who had raised his own varieties from seed that came from Baker's Nursery, which is no longer. In its day, Baker's Nursery sold stock bred by George Russell (1857-1951), considered the father of modern varieties, who had started off growing them as a hobby on his two allotments in York. When Mr Russell died aged 94, his Times obituary declared that he was the man who 'banished forever the old-fashioned blue lupin'.
Your UK Grown perennial plants are delivered by mail order direct from our nursery, along with expert advice, friendly support, plus our Guarantee, so you can give them a whirl with complete confidence.