Botanical name: Lupinus

Lupins are instantly familiar border annuals and perennials, but there are shrubby (tree) lupins too. The border plants are cottage-garden staples, with bold spires of brightly coloured flowers in summer. The shrubs are less commonly grown but have the advantage of delicately scented flowers.


Lupins produce bold, colourful spikes of pea-like flowers in early summer – from white to pinks, reds, yellows, blues and purples, and various combinations of these. These reach 90cm (3ft) tall, rising above clumps of softly hairy green leaves divided into finger-like leaflets.


Lupins are sun-lovers, so give them a warm, open, bright position. They also like well-drained or even poor soil that is slightly acidic.


Heavy, wet soil is not appreciated by lupins, and they dislike drought when growth begins in spring. Light shade is tolerated.

Did you know?

Lupins are great for planting in bold drifts with ornamental grasses and other tall perennials, such as bearded irises and delphiniums. They make brilliant cut flowers too.

Growing guide

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.