Sunday 17 December 2017

Lupins stand out with spires of bright colours

LUPINS have been having a hard time from the weather in recent weeks. Such tall and large flowers can so easily catch the wind and get blown over. But when these hardships are not visited upon them, lupins are truly splen-did flowers.

The tall brightly coloured spires are very distinctive, flowering in early and mid-summer. The colours are varied in shades of pink, red, purple, blue and yellow, and mixed colours. There are some with two-toned, or bicoloured flowers such as blue and white, or red and white.

Lupins are easily grown from seeds sown in pots, or in fine soil in the open ground. The seeds can be sown from March to September. If sown now, they will make nice young plants for planting out in borders in October, and they will flower next year.

Plants are so easy to raise from seeds that they can even be sown directly where they are to grow and flower permanently. If this method of growing is chosen, it is essential that the young seedlings are kept completely free of competition from weeds and they would also need to be thinned out if they are too close together.

Most packets of seeds have mixed colours and, if a particular colour is preferred, it might be necessary to wait until the plant flowers to decide which to retain.

Cuttings of the new shoots can be taken from the base of the plant in spring to increase the number of plants.

Plants can also be purchased now in flower, choosing the most preferred colours. Lupins are luxurious feeders and heavy feeding will give tall plants and large flowers.

These stems will need staking, so if this is too much trouble simply do not feed the plants as much. The flowers can still look very well, they will just be smaller in size.

Lupins can have a very significant impact on a garden during their flowering period. The flowers are so large and colourful that a few plants can lift the whole garden for several weeks.

Place them so that a few groups of the same colour can be seen in the same view, each playing off the others.

This effect is easy to achieve by picking out several spots, and planting each one with single plants, or small groups of three or five plants in a larger garden.

Apart from their lively colours and summery look, the upright accent provided by lupins is valuable in a mixed border for contrast with other flowers.

There are lots of reasons to grow this lovely flower.

Sunday Independent

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