A group of herbaceous perennials, annuals and half-hardy annuals loved for their tall stately flower spires. Available in a wide range of flower colours. Also included in this group is the tree Lupin, a large shrubby plant with mainly yellow flowers.

Family: Fabaceae (pea or legume family)
Botanical Name: Lupinus
Common Name: Lupin

Foliage: Deciduous palmate leaves.

Flowers: Tall spires or terminal racemes of pea-like flowers, in shades white, cream, yellow, orange, blue and red. Often fragrant.

Flowering Period: Summer.

Soil: Well-drained, moderately fertile, humus-rich light soil (sand or loam). Acid or neutral pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun but will tollerate some shade. Plant in an east, west or south facing aspect.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Annuals, perennials or shrubs.

Origin: North America.

Hardiness: Most varieties are fully hardy in the UK.

Toxicity: All parts of this plant can cause severe discomfort if ingested.

Planting and Growing Lupins

Very easy to grow. Plant out in a sunny position from autumn to spring in a light, sandy, slightly acid soil.

Lupins are perfect for the back of borders where the upright blooms will add structure to your planting displays.

The flowers are a magnet for butterflies, bees and other beneficial pollinating insects.

Taking Care of Lupins

Stake tall varieties on exposed windy sites.

Pruning Lupins

Deadhead faded blooms and tidy-up plants to encourage a second flush of flowers. Leave the seed heads on a few annuals if you want to collect seed for next season.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to attack by slugs and Lupin aphid. Perennials are prone to viral and fungal ailments.

Propagating Lupins

Sow seed of annuals and perennials where they are to flower in late spring. Alternatively sow in a prepared seedbed and transplant to final flowering site in autumn. Note: F1 hybrids don't come true from collected seed.

Basal cuttings of named cultivars can be taken in late spring.

Popular Varieties of Lupin

A number of good garden varieties are available, mainly based on the 'Russell Strain'. Note: Plug plants are only available in season.

Lupinus arboreus (tree lupin) is a large shrubby perennial. Its yellow, fragrant flowers are borne in early summer.

Lupinus 'Chandelier' (hardy perennial) produces tall spires of lemon yellow flowers bloom from May-June. Height to 3ft (90cm). Available at Van Meuwen.

Lupinus Desert Sun bears large intensely-coloured lightly fragrant flower spikes set off against soft-green to greyish-green foliage.

Lupinus 'My Castle' produces vibrant red blooms bring height and grandeur to summer borders. Available at Van Meuwen.

Lupinus 'Manhattan Lights' is a hardy tall perennial, smothered in bi-colour, pastel-yellow and vivid purple flower spires, over palmate, green foliage. It comes back year after year with an ever-increasing amount of blooms. Height to 3ft (1m). Available from You Garden.

Lupinus 'Noble Maiden' produces white flower spikes that put on a magnificent display year after year with the minimum of attention. Available at Van Meuwen.

Lupinus Polar Princess carries large creamy white spires of buds that open to pure white.

Lupinus Rachel de Thame produces classic towering candy-pink and cream-white flower spires that bloom in summer.

Lupinus 'Russel Mix' is easy-to-grow border variety grown from seed. The flower spikes are packed with bold and bright blooms are produced from early summer. Height to 47in (120cm), spread to 30in (75cm). Available at Van Meuwen.

Lupinus 'Russell Hybrids Mixed' provides a traditional cottage garden mixed display, with a spectacular array of rainbow colours, in shades of red, white, pink, purple, yellow. Available at Van Meuwen.

Lupinus Tequila Flame produces large intensely-coloured lightly fragrant flower spikes set off against soft-green to greyish-green foliage. Their strong bushy upright habit means that staking is not necessary.

Lupinus 'The Chatelaine' provides a pleasing mix of pink and white tall spires from early summer onwards. Available at Van Meuwen.

Lupinus 'The Governor' bears attractive blue and white flower spikes. Excellent garden performance. Height to 36in (90cm), spread 30in (75cm). Available at Van Meuwen.

Lupinus 'The Page' produces tall spires of pea-like blooms, in a rich shades of scarlet red. Long flowering period. Height to 36in (90cm), spread 30in (75cm). Available at Van Meuwen.

Lupinus 'Tutti Frutti' produces unique bicoloured flowers, in various colour tones. Height to 3ft (90cm). Available at Van Meuwen.