Plant your own mini meadow full of lupines. The bright, colorful spires will attract pollinators.
You needn't be envious of lupine-covered banks and fields. If you want to attract pollinators and enjoy the gorgeous flowers in your own lawn and landscape, plant your own mini wildflower meadow!
Lupines are stunning wildflowers with vibrant blue and purple spires and they attract butterflies, mason bees, bumble bees and hummingbirds.
And you can plant them easily and over the years, they will self-sow and fill the space.
When you're considering where to place lupines, choose a space where they will get full sun (part shade is okay, too) and very well-drained soil.
Lupines are a legume, so they act as their own fertilizer. You won't need to fertilize them often.
The easiest and most affordable way to start your own plot of lupines is to begin with lupine seed.
Soak the seeds overnight in water and to ensure they soak up the moisture even more, nick the seeds with a file or knife.
After they've soaked, sow the lupine seeds in your chosen wildflower area.
Another plus to planting lupine seeds is they won't require digging deep into the soil or spacing; you just have to scratch the soil a little bit, drop the seeds, and they will germinate.
Do note that this won't immediately result in you having wall-to-wall lupines but, no worries!
Once you have a few lupine plants, you're going to have a lot more lupine plants. Lupines live to self-sow, and that is how they will start spreading.
And your lupine meadow or wildflower plot should last for years!
If you like your lupines a bit less wild, try some hybrids that will grow in your smaller garden space.
Try the lupine variety Russell hybrids. These grow three to four feet tall and boast lots of different colors, from reds and pinks to yellows and whites, and the familiar purples and blues.
And there are shorter ones, too. The Gallery series only grows to two feet tall.
With these in your smaller garden space, be a bit more cautious when the lupines begin to self-sow. If you want to let them spread a little bit, that is okay. Just let them go to seed, then the lupines will drop their seed and self-sow into the soil.
Otherwise, if you just want to keep the few plants you have, make sure you deadhead them really well at the end of the season after they're done flowering. This will prevent the seeds from self-sowing.
And here's a neat fact - if you're growing these hybrids and you let them self-sow like in a wildflower meadow, they will eventually all revert back to being blue. Blue is the dominant color in the lupine world.
So, don't be surprised if you purchased hybrid variety lupines to plant in your garden. They may start out red, yellow or pink and begin turning up blue or blue and white as they self-sow.
Q: I have these teeny tiny flies on my old lilac bushes. Any idea what they might be? And if they're harmful? - Amy, in Underhill
A: As long as your lilac is growing strong and it flowered this spring, these flies are most likely not harming the bush.
Most of the insects we encounter aren't harming anything so perhaps the flies were attracted to the lilacs color and scent!
Q: The deer which live on our street are eating everything. Thanks for sharing ideas to stop their feasting fiesta! - Barry, in Pittsburgh, PA
A: This is such a common problem. And there are two ways to keep the deer from your gardens.
The first is more dramatic: put up a fence. The fence you choose would need to be seven feet tall because, as we know, deer leap.
You can also go a bit more extreme and try a single or double strand of electric fencing around the garden. Once deer have been zapped a few times when they test it, they probably won't come back.
The other solution: repellents. Treatments like Plant Skydd uses blood meal as its base and has a very strong odor when you first spray it on the plants.
Within 24 hours, that scent dissipates for us but not for the deer. That product can work for months repelling deer from your garden.
Learn more from All Things Gardening: Keeping Larger Animals From Your Garden's Bounty
If you are using spray repellents, continue to spray it on the new growth especially.
There are several other repellent products that use strong odors that animals don't like, like the smell of rotten eggs, garlic, cayenne pepper or essential oils.
The most important thing in using repellents to keep deer from your gardens is to rotate the spray products. Try two or three different kinds on your gardens so the deer don't ever get used to one scent.
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