Sunday, 7 June 2020

Lupins: will they re-flower if you dead-head them?

I had a question in from Nick this morning ("Hi, Nick!") about Lupins (oh dear, I can hear myself singing "Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, galloping through the sward" already).

He asked, is it too late to cut back lupins for a second flush of flowering if the plant has formed seed pods?

Simple answer: no!

There is still time to get a second flush of flowers, if you dead-head them hard, now.

What exactly does that mean?

If you look at a Lupin - sorry, I can't help myself -

Dennis Moore, highwayman: "Hand over your Lupins!"
Group of posh folks in carriage (ie victims of highwayman) "What, the flower Lupin?"
DM: [impatiently]"Yes, yes,  hand them over."
Victims: [plaintively] "But we don't have any Lupins!" 
DM:[in smug tones] "I happen to know that this is the Lupin Express!"
[mutters of "damn, bother" as they produce bunches of Lupins from under coats, behind their backs etc]

(End of digression, please read on) can see that it is mostly one long spike, covered in small flowers.

Here's some I took a photo of, earlier.

If you look at the spikes nearest to us, you can see that they have gone to seed: there are fat green seedpods where the flowers used to be.

So this is the time to chop off that flowering spike, right down to where the leaves start.

Don't just chop off the top bit and leave a stump sticking up: that's just ugly.

Trace it down until you find where it stops being a bare stem, and starts having leaves,  and cut it there.

Sometimes you will find that the stem is already sending up a new little sprout of flowers, so - obviously - you would cut just above them.

Even if there are no new flowering spikes to be seen, being cut back like this will often prompt the plant to send up a whole new spike. Not always, but often.

So  yes, it is well worth dead-heading your Lupins, even if they have already started forming seedpods.

Oh, and don't put them on the compost, unless you want lots of tiny Lupins everywhere next year!

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