The pain and pleasure of Lupins

I love lupins. They have purple flowers – and purple is a favourite colour of mine – and I love the shape of the flower spikes. They are also very attractive to bees, and who doesn’t like to see bees in their garden?

I ordered some lupins plants back in the cold days of January and when the tiny snippets of root arrived on a freezing February day, I planted them out, not sure what would happen, but hopeful.

When the spring came and tiny shoots appeared in the pots I was so happy, and when they reached a good size I took them out of the pots and put them into the garden bed and there they flourished, producing tall cheerful flower spikes in purple, lilac and pale pink.

And the bees loved them.

But…

As the season has gone on, I noticed the leaves were looking a bit sickly and sticky and a bit misshapen and a bit mouldy.

I looked more closely at the plants and – UGH! – aphids!

Not just “some” aphids, but the most intense cluster of large aphids I have ever seen.

Apparently lupins are so tasty that they have their own type of aphid – the lupin aphid.

As an introduced species, they don’t have any natural predators in the UK (so hoping for the ladybirds to come and save my plants is a negative). So to save my plants, my best option is to spray with chemicals, which I don’t like doing.

I have done some spraying but not to any great effect yet that I can see. The plants still struggle, the new shoots are drained of life before they have a chance to grow and every time I look at the plants I feel sad and unhappy.

I still love lupins but I’m not sure I would choose them again, having seen how tasty they are to sap sucking insects and knowing I would have to be out there spraying the plants with bug spray to keep them thriving.

1 thought on “The pain and pleasure of Lupins”

  1. Interesting! I’d planned to try some lupins here next year but now I think I’ll research to see if we have those aphids here. I don’t use sprays except Bt for caterpillars, and Safer’s insecticidal soap, which usually works on “our” aphids. Love your purple ones!

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