Lupin Growing Guide

Lupinus perennis, Lupinus polyphyllus hybrids and other Lupinus species.


Crop Rotation Group

Legumes (Pea and Bean family) 


Fertile, well-drained soil enriched with compost, with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant

Yes, most garden lupins are hardy perennials. Well-rooted plants are hardy to -34°C (-30°F).


Drench with a liquid organic fertiliser when plants begin to produce new leaves in spring.


Single Plants: 60cm (1' 11") each way (minimum)
Rows: 60cm (1' 11") with 60cm (1' 11") row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Lupins can be started from seed in summer or spring, or you can set out purchased plants first thing in spring. Soak lupin seeds in water overnight before planting them, and expect germination in two weeks at room temperature. Grow seedlings under bright light, and gradually pot them up to larger containers. Set out bare-root or container-grown plants as the soil warms in spring. Spread the roots with your fingers, and take care not to bury the crown, which can lead to rotting. Where winters are mild, lupins also can be planted in early autumn. Young plants need water when they are actively growing. A surface mulch suppresses weeds and retains soil moisture while making the plants look more attractive.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalised calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Stately lupins are the stars of the early summer garden, with tall symmetrical flower spikes rising above lush palmate foliage. Large-flowered Russell hybrids perform best in climates that have cool summer nights. Lupines fix nitrogen with the help of soil-borne rhizobia that are different from those used by beans and peas. Once the plants settle in and form relationships with their preferred microbes, growth of lupin plants naturally improves. Should you want to start a new planting in a different place, inoculate the new site with a little soil taken from the old one. All plant parts are poisonous, so lupins are resistant to browsing by deer and rabbits.


Gather lupins to use as cut flowers when they are almost open to the tip. Trim the stem ends every other day and reset in fresh water to prolong vase life. Cutting off old flower spikes can help extend the bloom time of lupins. When flowering ends, prune off old stems to better view the lupin foliage.


Slugs may chew lupin foliage in spring, and tarnished plant bugs may leave feeding spots on leaves in summer. Perennial, large-flowered lupins have low tolerance for humid heat.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Lupin