lupin flower spikes
How to grow lupins from seed

For the very best lupin cultivars it used to be the case that you only purchased plants that were vegetatively propagated from cuttings. Why? Because lupins are notorious for producing seedlings of a quality far lower than the parent plants. Furthermore they hybridize readily so the chances of ending up with seedlings that have anything like the favoured characteristics of the parent plants are remote.

lupin seeds
lupin seeds
Of course nowadays we get to benefit from the hard work of those clever plant breeders who over the years have managed to produce a number of excellent seed grown cultivars, the best of which are arguably the trademarked Lupin 'Tutti Frutti' hybrids.

So whether you want to grow one of the new seed-grown hybrids or are trying to produce your own lupin hybrids, growing lupins from seed is surprisingly easy.

Lupins can be sown from spring until early summer and then again in the autumn. To begin with soak the seeds in warm water for 12 hours or so. Then using a large, modular seed tray filled with a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Gently water in and then allow the excess to drain off before pressing one seed onto the surface of each module. Do not bury the seed as it will require the presence of light to help initiate germination, However you can apply a thin layer of vermiculite approximately 3 mm deep to prevent the seed from being lifted if you need to water.

Lupin seedlings growing in seed trays
Lupin seedlings
Place the tray inside a heated temperature at approximately 18-20 degrees Celsius or seal inside a polythene bag. Place on a warm bright windowsill, but one that is out of direct sunlight. You can expect the seedlings to emerge from 18-21 days, at which point they can be removed from their propagator or bag.

Once the seedlings have established in their modules they can be popped out and potted on into 3 inch pots and then moved outside to the protection of a cold frame. Spring sown plants can be planted out into their final positions 12 inches apart in the autumn. Autumn sown plants can be planted out once the threat of late frosts have passed in late spring.

Remove any flower spikes that appear in the first year as they will redirect energy reducing the plants ability to establish for the following year.

For related articles click onto the following links:
Gardeners World: Lupins

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