Laid-back lupins easy for non gar­dener

Manawatu Guardian - - SERVICESDIRECTORY - By HENRI HAM

‘They don’t re­quire a per­fectly fer­tilised, mulched and dug-over soil ’ to start out on.

Lupins are one of our most pop­u­lar cot­tage gar­den flow­ers and it’s not hard to see why. Their im­pres­sive flower spires with closed, baby bon­net-type petals will brighten up any gar­den. And their many shades of blues, violets, pinks and white — all en­hanced by vi­brant green fo­liage — in­ject fan­tas­tic colour.

But what I also like is that they are rel­a­tively laid back. They don’t re­quire a per­fectly fer­tilised, mulched and dug-over soil to start out on. A mod­er­ately fer­tile (at best) bed of soil is just fine. A bit sandy — even bet­ter. In fact, I often sug­gest lupins to my lesser-in­clined green­fin­gered friends as they cope well with less love.

I like to plant lupins in my cot­tage gar­den flower bed. I plant them along­side hol­ly­hocks (an­other much taller stat­uesque flower), del­phini­ums, marigolds and pop­pies. If you’re not sure on what combo you should be do­ing, how about try­ing our cot­tage gar­den sea­sonal flower mix.

At the nurs­ery we have tra­di­tion­ally grown white and a mixed gallery va­ri­ety of lupin seedlings. The mixed va­ri­ety flow­ers in shades of pink, purple, blue, yel­low and white — grow­ing about 50cm high. This year we have added two more colours to our lupin fam­ily. Blue lupin is avail­able now and blooms in shades of blue to vi­o­let. Our other new va­ri­ety rose, will be avail­able in midNovem­ber.

While lupins are laid back, they do still like a nice, sunny, well-drained spot to grow. Grab your seedlings from our Awapuni Nurs­eries on­line shop and have them de­liv­ered di­rect to your door. We guar­an­tee they’ll ar­rive in great con­di­tion or we’ll re­place them. If you want a plant that’s al­ready a bit fur­ther along the grow­ing cy­cle, our mixed gallery lupin also comes as an es­tab­lished plant. This means it’s had ex­tra months of grow­ing at the nurs­ery so it will in­stantly give ap­peal to your gar­den.

Plant the seedlings or plants 50cm apart give them a de­cent wa­ter­ing as soon as they’re planted. Af­ter this only water ev­ery few days.

Lupins grow a tap­root, which is a main root grow­ing straight down. Be­cause of this, pots are not their first choice of grow­ing lo­ca­tion. And they also don’t cope well with clay, as they strug­gle break­ing through this solid layer in the soil.

Be­ing a peren­nial (last­ing more than one year), you might like to di­vide up your lupins in au­tumn. Di­vid­ing peren­nial plants while they are dor­mant can help ex­pand your gar­den, and en­sures they will be ready to bloom again come spring.

When your plants start to look a bit over­grown (around au­tumn), first prune them back, then mulch and fer­tilise. When the leaves at the cen­tre of the plant start to die off leav­ing gap­ing holes you’ll know you can di­vide them.

To di­vide lupins, dig them up around 30cm past the edge of the plant. Wash the roots with water and then gen­tly pull the plant apart. You may need to cut part of the tap­root to sep­a­rate it. Each new clump you’re left with should have around four or five new growth buds.

You can now re­plant the health­i­est seg­ments of your lupin. Di­vid­ing and shift­ing your plant lo­ca­tions is an ex­cel­lent way to freshen up your gar­den. This is also the time to dig in new com­post to give your plants the best pos­si­ble kick start.

If you’re do­ing this work in your gar­den, make sure you put in the ex­tra ef­fort and keep weeds at bay. A quick hoe of any weeds once a week will mean your plants don’t have to com­pete for vi­tal nu­tri­ents, water and light.

Ap­ply mulch now while you can still get in be­tween the plants, be­fore the new growth oc­curs.

Lupins are prone to slugs and snails, but their main foe is the aphid. So keep a close eye on aphids to ‘nip them in the bud’ be­fore the prob­lem gets out of hand. You’ll find many sprays avail­able at your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre. Or pick­ing them off with your fin­gers or blast­ing with water can also help. But that’s mak­ing lupins sound a bit more labour in­ten­sive than laid back now isn’t it?

Lupins are rel­a­tively laid back.

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