}

February 18, 2008

The trouble with Lupines


Russell Lupines at the Chelsea Flower Show
The chatter amongst those in-the-know about lupines is that suddenly, they've become difficult to grow well. It's true, In 1997, anthracnose began showing up world-wide, in populations of Lupines, reportedly due to the commercial growing of Lupine species as a protein seed souce, worldwide. Anthracnose, is a fungus, spread by moisture dripping on t foliage, or soil born. Whatever the actual cause, if one wishes to grow award winning lupines, such as the Russell Lupine above, photographed at last years Chelsea Flower Show in London, one needs to take precautions.

It's not surprising that most retailers who sell seeds, fail to mention this problem. A problem that can be overcome by home gardeners if they take a few precautions which may seem elaborate, but necessary.


1. ORDER DESEASE FREE SEED.

German seed supplier Jelitto, is the only source that I know of, but there may be others who can supply to the home gardener. You must get seed which has been heat-treated, and Jelitto has a patented Jelitto JET® process which renders their Lupine seed virtually free of Colletotrichum acutatum, or, Anthracnose. But, attack from other sources cannot be ruled out.

2. USE A STERILIZED PEAT-FREE SOIL MIX

This is critical. Home sterilization is relatively easy, if you have an oven, some foil and time. OK....so what are a few worms in the All Clad! This weekend, in the thaw, I was able to dig up some soil from outside in the garden, and baked it at 400 Degrees F. for two hours, along with some sharp gravel. This, I mixed with some perlite to create my peat-free mix.


3. USE STERILIZED POTS

Common sense here, I simply soaked some seed pots and trays in household clorine bleach and water, 2 tablespoons per gallon (as if I measured!).



4. SOAK SEED FOR 30 minutes at 131 deg. F ( 55 deg. C). to kill any existing spores. This may reduce your germination rate, but it will be worth it.


5. PLANT SEEDS AND TRY TO KEEP SEEDLING FOLIAGE DRY. This is important, since you want to avoid spraying with a fungicide, I would imagine. Although, I try to practice organic gardening, I personally don't have a problem with Fungicides. They are useful if your plants are to be growing in a damp greenhouse for the spring, or outside in a wet area.

Other than that, it's easy! Lupines are magnificent when grown well, but understanding the issues they can now have, will help you if you plan on investing on some seed or plants at your local garden center. Don't expect to find this info on the seed packet or in the seed catalog from most seed retailers. Clearly, it will put people off.

3 comments :

  1. Wow, that is quite the process. I had no idea that it was that tedious. I do love them, I think they are beautiful, but Wow!

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  2. Interesting posts. I would like to learn more about symptoms of lupin anthracnose. I planted a few plants of the varieties Chandelier and Noble Maiden this spring and one plant of Noble Maiden started to fade and shrink from the top leaves and lesions showed on stems. Could it be that cause? Thanks.

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  3. Those lupines are fantastic! When I went organic I had to cut out lupines, poppies, and a long list of others. At my greenhouse (can be seen soon at) http://www.newleafplants.com I put the seed flats very close to the florescent lights (3" sometimes) depending on the seeds' needs.

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