Lupines are a group of flowering plants that are easy to recognize since all varieties produce clusters of flowers along erect spires. Many are sweetly scented and have a pea-like appearance. Lupines come in a vast array of colors including white, pink, red, violet and purple. A cottage garden favorite for several centuries, lupines are easy to grow from seed but germination is best done indoors about 6 to 8 weeks from spring.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Fill up peat pots to within 1/2 inch of the top with seed starting mix.
Mist the seed starting mix with water until it is saturated. Avoid drenching the pots with water, as this will cause the pots to disintegrate.
Poke a 3/4-inch deep hole in the center of each peat pot, using a chopstick.
Scratch off a small section of the surface on each seed using a nail file or a piece of sandpaper.
Soak the seeds in a bowl of warm tap water for no more than 24 hours. This will decrease the germination time.
Plant one lupine seed in each peat pot, and cover each seed with no more than 1 inch of soil.
Transfer the pots to a moderately warm location that will stay between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the mix in the peat pots on the moist side. Germination can begin in about 2 weeks, but can require as long as 8 weeks.
Transplant the lupine seedlings into your flower garden as soon as they are about 2 to 3 inches tall.
Locate a sunny spot in your garden for planting the lupine seedlings.
Work the soil using a shovel, pick or fork to a depth of about 16 inches. Remove all weeds and their roots as you till the soil.
Spread out a 2- to 3-inch layer of sphagnum peat moss to acidify the soil. Lupines prefer being grown in soil that is acidic. You can also use elemental sulfur, provided you read the instructions on the product label so you will know precisely how much to incorporate into the soil.
Dig planting holes that are as wide and as deep as the size of each peat pot. For annual lupines, make each hole about 6 to 10 inches apart. For perennial varieties, each hole should be between 18 and 24 inches apart.
Plant one lupine seedling into a planting hole. Use a trowel to push soil in and around each seedling.
Water each lupine seedling, taking care not to soak the leaves. Water the lupine seedlings daily for the first week after planting. Then reduce watering to one to two times a week until established.
Fertilize perennial lupines in early spring, Use a 10-10-10 or similar granular type fertilizer. Check the instructions on the product so you will know exactly how much fertilizer to spread per size of each plant.
Powdery mildew can form on the delicate foliage of lupines. To prevent this, do not water in late afternoons.