The lupine, Latin Lupinus (lupus = wolf, therefore sometimes also called “wolf bean”), belongs to the family of the papilionaceous plants. At the beginning of the 19th century, the perennial, which originated in North America, began its triumphal march in Europe. More than 200 different species, both perennial and annual, enrich the gardens today. Here it is hard to imagine colorful borders without cultivars of the perennial lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus).
With a height of 80 to 120 centimeters, the well-known garden lupine rises from any herbaceous border, visible from afar, and the flower corolla alone can grow up to half a meter high. The foliage of the lupine is a vivid green. The palmately pinnate leaves often collect water in the center, which then looks like a silver bead.
While the wild form blooms in a blue, the gardens are enriched by flower candles in white, pink, red, purple, yellow or even bicolor. Since lupines always open first the lowest flowers of the candle, they thus ignite a veritable firework of colors from late May to early August.
After flowering, pods are formed, which contain the seeds.
CAUTION. Not all lupins are the same. The seeds of garden and wild lupines contain the toxic bitter substances lupinin and spartein and can cause respiratory paralysis and death if eaten.
The lupine grows on native soil. It is very easy to care for and does not make any special demands on the soil. On the contrary. It likes it sandy, poor and acidic with a pH value below 6.5.
Like about 150 other species, the yellow lupine originates from the Mediterranean region. But this attractive plant is also found in North, Central and South America.
Probably the best known use of the lupine is as an ornamental plant in the garden. The perennial plant, which sows itself, quickly fills gaps in the bed. Thanks to new cultivars that have produced smaller species, lupine is also suitable for keeping in pots. As a cut flower, it keeps fresh for a long time in the vase.
Another field of application is the use as green manure. Here, annual lupines are sown. At their roots rhizobiaceae form, which store nitrogen. Lupins are therefore ideal for enriching the soil with nitrogen. The lupine is a great help when it comes to preparing garden areas for the creation of new beds. The narrow-leaved, yellow or white lupine penetrates up to two meters deep into the soil with its taproots and loosens the soil in this way.
Lupines can inspire a true passion for collecting. If you go back to the varieties of the English breeder George Russell, you will be thrilled by the so-called “Castle Series”. The white ” Noble Maiden”, the bright yellow “Chandelier” and the crimson “The Pages” grow 80 to 100 centimeters high and bloom for weeks.
At 50 to 60 centimeters, the dwarf garden lupines are considerably smaller and thus suitable for pots.
“Westcountry” is the name given to bicolored or multicolored lupines.
Be careful with new shoots: Not only do we humans appreciate lupines, slugs also literally love to eat them. With the appropriate precautions, however, nothing stands in the way of romantic blossom magic in the garden for many summer weeks.