White lupine (Lupinus albus L.) is one of over 200 species of lupins, a genus of legumes grown worldwide both for their seeds used in animal feed and for fodder. In this article we will discuss how to propagate, grow lupine and its care.
Lupins are one of the quintessential garden plants, they are hardy, easy to grow and available in a wide range of colors.
They are native to North and South America, North Africa and the Mediterranean. Beans have been used as a food source in the high Andes for at least 6,000 years; however, they are poisonous if not prepared properly.
They belong to the pea family, with around 200 species, and as such can fix nitrogen in the soil.
They are grown for animal feed as a replacement for soy because they are high in protein and contain less fat than soy.
Most lupins are herbaceous perennials, but there are some species of tree and annual lupins.
The other main species of cultivated lupins are yellow lupine (Lupinus luteus), blue lupine (Lupinus angustifolius) and pearl lupine (Lupinus mutabilis).
How to propagate lupine
Sow the seeds as soon as the last winter frost has passed, in early spring, using a mixture of garden soil with a little compost.
Prepare the growing tray and place the seeds no more than 1 cm deep and at a distance of about 10 cm between each one, cover them with soil and then water until the entire substrate is moistened.
Place the tray in a place that is protected but receives direct sunlight, remember to always keep the soil moist. Once the plants have two or more pairs of leaves, you can transplant them.
Keep in mind that when growing lupine from seed, it’s very hard to know what colors you’ll get, so it’s a matter of luck as to what colors you get.
Propagate lupine by basal cutting
If you want an exact copy of the parent plant, you will need to take cuttings in the spring.
A difference de un esqueje de tallo, con el esqueje basal, debe ir justo a la base de la planta, en el punto en que el tallo se une a la copa, e intendar coger también un trozo de raíz empujando el cuchillo hacia abajo en ground.
A clean, sharp and properly sanitized knife is required. The sharper the knife the better, as you will be able to make a single quick cut in the base without causing any damage.
When making the cut, you will want to make the incision as close to the crown as possible. When doing so, look for the most recent stems, without stripping the original stems.
Once cut, there may be too much plant matter, too many shoots sticking out the sides, in which case you will need to carefully cut off the excess.
The goal is to leave a single leaf or group of leaves above each cutting you take.
When you have the cuttings, it’s time to propagate them by mixing about two parts horticultural gravel or sand to improve drainage with two parts compost.
If you have all-purpose compost, you can use that, but we recommend sifting it through a sieve to get a finer mix.
Fill the containers, ideally 9 cm or 1 litre, with the mixture of compost and sand and place the cuttings around the edge.
It is better to put them on the edge because they dry more slowly. If you use, for example, a square container, you can take four cuttings and place them in the respective four corners.
Water the container and place it in a warm place with access to indirect sunlight. If you don’t put them in a warm, humid place right away, they will start to wilt.
You should water them regularly with water so they don’t dry out, being careful not to overwater them.
You can help achieve moist conditions by putting some sort of plastic covering over the cuttings, but make sure they don’t come in contact with the plastic.
Wait for them to become established and when you see new leaves have sprung up, transplant them into larger pots or directly into the garden.
Growing lupine and its care
The first thing to know when growing lupins is that they need poor, well-drained soil and full sun; they tolerate some shade, but if planted under trees they tend to grow limp and long, with very few flowers.
Make sure the lupine is not in a location that will suffer from wet soil during the winter months, a situation that is difficult for the plant to recover from.
They do not tolerate calcareous soils or very wet soils, as they rot in winter.
Additional fertilization is not necessary, as they tolerate poor soils, but a top dressing of compost is appreciated, as long as it is not placed near the crown of the plant.
Do not feed farmyard manure, as this will also lead to crown rot.
Lupine especially needs well-drained soil. It prefers acidic soils and does not tolerate high levels of alkalinity or waterlogged conditions.
For the first few months, make sure lupine plants get enough water for good root development (they have deep roots), but let the soil dry out between waterings.
Then, water only during dry or very dry periods.
It is convenient to support flower spikes. Although they stand very upright on their own, strong winds can cause the flower spikes to move and create a curve in the flower as it tries to push towards the sun.
Plagues and diseases
Aphids can cause stunted growth and leaf distortion. Control is by spraying with a systemic insecticide or soapy water.
Slugs are a big problem as they see lupins as a restaurant, so be sure to protect them at all times.
Lupine anthracnose is a fungal infection that occurs mainly during a hot, humid spring and summer.
It is characterized by the appearance of brown spots with orange spores on the stems and leaves. The leaf stalks tend to grow in a spiral pattern that resembles a corkscrew.
If the infestation is light, it cuts and destroys the infected tissue; do not compost it, burn it or put it in the trash.
If the infestation is severe, the plant should be dug up and destroyed; Also remove leaf debris from the surface of the soil.
Try to avoid infection by ensuring there is adequate air circulation around the plant and do not water overhead as this spreads the spores.
It may also be interesting to read: How to easily reproduce Aloe vera (sabila).
If you want to grow lupines the following year, do not save seeds from a plant that has been infected and if it returns a second year, do not grow lupines.
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