Lupin project – update

Nearly three weeks ago I posted some musings on my Lupin-project, where I try to spread Lupins of various wild harvested types – voluntarily – in certain managed patches and plots on the land here. We have been doing extensive landscaping the past 2 months (which will be the subject of other posts) and I love lupins! Late last summer we tagged, labelled and saved a variety of seeds. At first I didn’t have the seed pods properly covered and it was fun having them explode everywhere… but not so much cleaning them up afterwards hahaha. It’s also fun when they explode as you try to grab them.

Image obtained from: https://www.americanmeadows.com/wildflower-seeds/lupine-seeds/all-about-lupine

Lupins are just an amazing little piece of engineering, from how the weight of the pollinator pushing the petal downward allows it to reach the inside of the flower, to the twisting and bursting seedpods and the germination of the new seeds. It amazes me! I had to search for a proper image to link, as I don’t have one of my own and this American Meadows link: https://www.americanmeadows.com/wildflower-seeds/lupine-seeds/all-about-lupine, does a great description of the plants with additional information on Lupins.

A couple of months ago I finally remembered that the seeds I collected last summer required stratification and threw all the saved seeds in the fridge for a week orso. At the end of April and after soaking them in water for a couple of days I planted many of the Polyphyllus seeds in a large plastic tray with little pots with a mixture of native and potting soil – you can see the image of that in my previous post here. That tray was left outside on our deck in a sunny and warm spot. While many of the wild seeds were sprouting – as evidenced by the sprouts in my front flower bed – over three weeks later none of these did anything, nor did the seeds I scattered along the one foot row outside. I was either impatient or did something wrong.

poly sprouting


I think it is probably because I didn’t go through the proper process to mimic natural germination or scarification, and the seeds not being warm enough… on top of that nor do I have the patience to wait more than several weeks as I know these seeds are quite vigorous given the right conditions. Soooooo I just dumped all that soil in a bucket for my wildflower project instead. (which will also be, the subject of another post 😉 ) and started from scratch with the germination process indoors. I had a lot more success this time around.

One thing I dislike is reading blogs and articles that lack specificity. This is especially frustrating when it comes to reading about plants. I like real data, how much time, how many seeds, what temperature? What success rate? So I’ve tried to log my actions a little better this time around

At the same time as the tray of outdoor planting pots I had put seedlings in a plastic mushroom carton, in a plastic bag. Those germinated very quickly and are growing very fast, the germination rate was somewhere between 80-100%. Frustratingly I didn’t count the seeds I put in the carton. 🙂 Sigh… I am learning..

Out of the tagged baggies of seeds I saved I was also finally able to identify the Perennis seeds – they are smoother and blacker and smaller than poly seeds – and placed 12 of them on moist papertowel in a dark spot in the drawer by the stove. I discovered from some previous seed germination attempts that the warmth and darkness works well for certain types of seeds and we bake a lot!

After a few days one seed popped! I then decided to scarify a few of the other seeds by nicking them with my pocket knife – and placed the bag above my t8 growlights as I noticed that spot was warmer – similar to the type of temperatures our sourdough likes. Within 2 days all those seeds swelled and began sprouting.

Polyphyllus is so easy to transplant but Perennis grows with a taproot; very detailed information can be found in this study with plenty of references. It makes sense that the seeds I nicked germinated, you can read quite a bit of information on germination experiments and one of the things noted is that “Seeds nicked using a razor blade exhibited 100% germination.” I wish I had found that report at the beginning of my project! Haha. It seems the ideal germination for these perennis seeds involves nicking, heat and moisture in the form of soaking wet paper towel in a somewhat sealed environment. I also should have had them in the freezer vs the fridge for stratification.

Sprouted perennis with taproot, you can see how it curls up once it hits the bottom of the tray

Survival rates for these don’t appear to be the best so we will see how they actually turn out and if they survive outside. In the end every single seed sprouted and they are getting along well. I can already tell they do not grow as fast as the polyphyllus, they’re simply less vigorous and just a bit smaller overal.

Left polyphyllus, started a week before the perennis on the right

Poly has 7 leaflets and perennis has 5. Ironically I now also have tons of poly popping up in the front flower bed where I planted 1 plant – they’ll be removed during regular weeding efforts as thats not where I want them. 😉 We went from ZERO lupins around the property at the start of last year, to several dozen of which probably 8 orso are expected to bloom this year.

I’m excited to see how the seeds will turn out for the perennis. The mature plants will also be smaller than poly and I need to figure out where I will group them. Overall for the Lupin-project I am really hoping we were able to collect some of the lovely colour types we saw last year – we tagged and scooped some plants that we liked once they went dormant, but the wait is still on for them to bloom… only a few more weeks!

Published by Renée

I write about my life, travel and my financial up and downs on my blog, Nickel By Nickel, while contradicting myself daily. ;)

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