The modern lupin has only been around since the 1930's. It was bred by George Russell, a recluse, by crossing the blue lupin from North America, with tree lupins and annual lupins. Thanks to his work, the modern perennial flowers now seen in our lupins, have bigger flower spikes and richer colours.
His secrets were reluctantly passed on to another nurseryman, James Baker, when George Russell was in his late 70's and the two of them worked together until Russell died aged 94, in 1951. When James Baker retired, a few dedicated plantsmen improved the perennial flowering lupin, still further. Today, hybrids are being bred which suit modern tastes for subtler single colours and stronger bi-colours.
Of course, the flowers of these modern hybrids cannot be reproduced from seed. But unless they are protected by plant breeders’ rights, you can raise them from cuttings.
Basal cuttings should be taken from the mature plants in the early summer, as the side shoots start to extend to 3 to 4 inches. Run an old knife blade between the side shoot and the main stem, severing them from each other, below the soil level. Remove the lower leaves from the shoot and the tip. Dip the bottom of the cutting in hormone rooting powder and put it into a pot filled with equal parts of grit or sharp sand and peat, or one of its alternatives. Firm the cutting in gently, water it well, drain and place the pot in a plastic bag. Blow into the bag and seal it and place it under the greenhouse bench.
The cuttings should take 2-3 weeks to root. Pot them up into proprietary compost when they are well rooted, keeping them cool and watered. Plant outside in the following spring into your perennial flower garden, where they will make a stand of noble, heavyweight lupin spires, to stand guard over your garden.
These particular perennial flowers are happiest in full sun, with a well draining, slightly acid soil. Do not over feed them, especially with farmyard manure, which many people think they need. This common misconception will result in soft growth which rots the crowns. This in turn will attract the attention of the lupins arch enemies - THE SLUGS AND SNAILS. Just a few of these hungry creatures will devour rows of young lupins in just one night, so make sure you protect them with adeterrent which really works.
Are you looking for help with your garden? Have your perennials failed to flourish?
Florrie bunda writes on gardening matters and many of her articles, tips and advice can be found at:
Perennial Flower Garden Ideas