You don’t have to be jealous of lupin-covered banks and fields. If you want to attract pollinators and enjoy the beautiful flowers in your lawn and landscape, plant your own mini wildflower meadow!
Lupines are stunning wildflowers with vibrant blue and purple spiers and they attract butterflies, mason bees, bumblebees and hummingbirds.
And you can plant them easily and over the years they will self-seed and fill the space.
When considering where to place lupines, choose a space where they will get full sun (partial shade is also acceptable) and very well-drained soil.
Lupins are a legume, so they act as their own fertilizer. You won’t need to fertilize them often.
The easiest and most affordable way to start your own plot of lupines is to start with lupine seeds.
Soak the seeds overnight in water and to make sure they absorb even more moisture, nick the seeds with a file or knife.
After soaking, sow the lupine seeds in the wildflower area of your choice.
Another benefit of planting lupine seeds is that they won’t need to dig deep into the ground or space out; you just need to scratch the soil a little, drop the seeds and they will germinate.
Note that this won’t immediately result in wall-to-wall lupines, but no worries!
Once you have a few lupine plants, you are going to have a lot. After lupine plants. Lupins live to self-seed, and this is how they will begin to spread.
And your lupin meadow or wildflower patch should last for years!
If you like your lupins a little less wild, try hybrids that will grow in your small garden.
Try Russell hybrids of the lupine variety. These grow three to four feet tall and offer many different colors, from reds and pinks, to yellows and whites, to the familiar purples and blues.
And there are also shorter ones. The Gallery Series is just two feet tall.
With these in your small garden, be a little more careful when the lupins start to self-seed. If you want to let them spread out a bit, that’s okay. Just let them go to seed, then the lupines will drop their seed and self-sow into the ground.
Alternatively, if you just want to keep the few plants you have, be sure to prune them well at the end of the season after they have finished flowering. This will prevent the seeds from self-sowing.
And here’s an interesting fact – if you grow these hybrids and let them self-seed like in a wildflower meadow, eventually they’ll all turn blue again. Blue is the dominant color in the lupine world.
So don’t be surprised if you bought lupins of hybrid varieties to plant in your garden. They may start out red, yellow, or pink and start to turn blue or blue and white as they seed themselves.
Q: I have these tiny tiny flies on my old lilac bushes. Any idea what they might be? What if they are harmful? – Amy, in Underhill
A: As long as your lilac is growing strong and blooming this spring, these flies are probably not harming the bush.
Most of the bugs we encounter don’t harm anything, so maybe the flies were attracted to the color and smell of the lilacs!
Q: The deer that live on our street eat everything. Thanks for sharing ideas for stopping their festive fiesta! – Barry, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
A: This is a very common problem. And there are two ways to keep deer away from your gardens.
The first is more dramatic: erecting a fence. The fence you choose should be seven feet high because, as we know, deer jump.
You can also go a step further and try a single or double strand of electric fence around the garden. Once the deer have been zapped several times when testing it, they are unlikely to return.
The other solution: repellents. Treatments like Plant Skydd use blood meal as a base and have a very strong smell when you first spray it on plants.
In 24 hours, this smell dissipates for us but not for the deer. This product can work for months repelling deer from your yard.
Learn more about All Things Gardening: Keeping Larger Animals From Your Garden’s Bounty
If you use repellent sprays, keep spraying them on new growth especially.
There are several other repellents that use strong odors that animals don’t like, such as the smell of rotten eggs, garlic, cayenne pepper, or essential oils.
The most important thing in using repellents to keep deer away from your gardens is to rotate the spray products. Try two or three different kinds in your gardens so deer never get used to just one smell.
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