can lupins be grown in pots

Can Lupins Be Grown In Pots?

Lupins are wonderful plants and they improve any garden, but they do grow quite large. For this reason, many gardeners wonder whether you can grow them in pots, or are they simply too large? Well, I ran an experiment where I attempted to grow some lupins in different-sized pots, read on to see what happened.

The simple answer is yes you can grow lupins in pots. Lupins will be happy in pots 12″ and bigger, for larger flowers go for larger pots!

Lupins will adapt to any pot size, but you need larger pots for bigger flower spikes. A key message to remember is “The size of the pot determines the size of the plant.”

Your chosen pot size will partly depend on whether the potted lupin is to be an indoor or outdoor plant. Obviously, you can use bigger pots outside, I would recommend at least a 15-inch pot or above. 

If growing inside, lupins will be happy in anything above a 12-inch pot.

Remember that Lupins grow a large tap root so it is not just the width that you need to worry about, but also the depth. Aim for a 12-inch or deeper pot.

Look at the size difference
Look at the size difference

Look at the size difference between the two plants, the one in the little pot is tiny compared to the big pot. This is an extreme example but illustrates the difference pot size can make really clearly.

These lupins were sown at the exact same time and grown in the exact same conditions. This really shows how, as I said earlier, the size of the pot determines the size of the plant.

It is also advised as with a lot of plants to add a little grit to the bottom of your pot to aid with drainage. Again like most potted plants, they will require feeding, a tomato feed is a good idea but lupins really arent too hungry so you don’t need to feed them too often.

Another thing to think about when growing potted Lupins is that they like slightly acidic conditions. This can be provided by rainwater so either leave them in an exposed position or use water from a water butt.

What pot to use?

You can use any pot really, as my earlier photo shows.

If you are looking for something easy and relatively cheap then I like to recommend these pots. They are made of plastic so they are nice and lightweight but look like they are stone.

Because they are plastic they are also hardy and can be left out all winter with no concerns.

Where to place your pot

I would suggest a sunny spot, beyond that it’s up to you really. You don’t want somewhere too exposed to the wind as lupins can be damaged by high winds, but as long as it is not really exposed it should be fine.

Overwintering Outdoor Pots

Like most plants grown in pots, Lupins will be vulnerable to frost damage if left exposed in a pot all winter. All the strength of the lupin is in its roots so you need to protect potted lupins over winter. 

You probably should move your lupins into a greenhouse or cold frame.

I didn’t do this though and left my lupins outside all winter, and they have survived just fine.

Lupins After A Winter in a Pot

These photos were taken in April after they had been left outside all winter. You can see that the lupin in the big pot is looking really healthy and hasn’t struggled at all with being left outside.

Even the little one survived
Even the little one survived

Even the little one survived!

Removing Dead Foliage

As you do when your border lupins start to fade you can cut the growth back in winter. However, with potted lupins, I leave the foliage to die off naturally as I believe it provides a slight mulch to protect from early frosts. How much of an impact this actually has is probably quite small, but it’s an easier thing to do so why not?

Do Lupines Do Well In Pots?

Lupines can do really well in pots and grow just as well as they would in the ground. just remember the same things that you would do with any potted plant, they will need regular watering and occasional feeding to really look their best.

How Big of a Pot For Lupins?

I answered this earlier in the article but in case you missed it, here it is again.

Lupins will adapt to any pot size, but you need larger pots for bigger flower spikes. A key message to remember is “The size of the pot determines the size of the plant.”

I would recommend at least a 15-inch pot or above. Remember that Lupins grow a large tap root so it is not just the width that you need to worry about, but also the depth. Aim for a 12-inch or deeper pot.

How Many Lupins in a Pot?

I would definitely say only grow a single lupin in each pot. They are simply too large of a plant to grow multiple in the same pot.

They may well grow together in a single pot but the plant will be smaller, the flower spikes smaller and the plants will not be as healthy, so why do it?

Do Lupins Need Acidic Soil?

Lupins like neutral to slightly acidic soil but they aren’t too fussy and will grow well in most soils. When growing mine in pots I just filled them with regular multi-purpose compost but you could add a little acidic soil mix to the compost in order to make it a little more acidic.

Will lupins grow in containers?

Yes, if they grow in pots they will grow in containers. The only thing to remember is lupins send out a deep tap root, so you need a deep container.

A shallow container will stunt the growth of your lupin and you will end up with a smaller plant and therefore smaller flowers.