How To Grow Delphinium Flowers
Guide to Grow Delphinium Flowers
Many People wonder How To Grow Delphinium Flowers in their gardens today and some are avoiding planting these plants due to the fact that they have been marketed as hard to grow.
There is no denying the fact that Delphinium flowers require a ton of attention, however if taken care of properly, they are an extremely rewarding flower.
Having the correct knowledge on how and when to sow Delphinium seeds is crucial to successfully cultivating plants that reach healthy heights and produce large amounts of flowers.
The Origins of Delphinium Flowers
The Delphinium Flower is revered as the queen of the border. She wears her gracefully spiralling robes in shades of blue, purple, mauve and white with an awesome elegance. What she lacks in perfume, she more than makes up for with the dark charms of her eyes, or bees.
In Afghanistan, the Delphinium Flower is known as “salil” and her yellow dye is used to colour silks and wools. In Greek, Delphinium means ‘little dolphin’ – which the unfurled leaf and bud resembles. Although the plant is poisonous, its seeds were once believed to be medicinal and they stupified scorpions.
A plant resembling our modern Delphinium Flowers was known at the beginning of the fifteenth century. But the ancestry of today’s plant is lost in the mists of hybridisation and hearsay.
The Delphinium family, whose roots join with the buttercup and the aconitum, consists of some 350 species of hardy and half hardy annuals and herbaceous perennials that are often short lived.
The annuals include those favourite, old cottage garden larkspurs which, in recent years, have been ‘improved’ away from their gentle blues into double flowered specimens in white, pink, lavender and violet standing three feet (90cm) tall. Thus, it has become a bedding plant.
The Delphinium species bear little resemblance to the lofty towers that dominate our borders. Their flowers are often borne along arching stems in panicles or racemes in red (Delphinium cardinale and Delphinium nudicaule), blue (Delphinium ajacis, Delphinium grandiflorum and Delphinium taisisnense) or yellow (Delphinium zalil). Their heights range between eight inches (20cm) and six feet (1,8m).
Although these are usually offered as seed, there are a few nurseries who sell young plants by mail order. The open habit of the Delphinium species render them less popular as garden plants.
The History of Delphinium Flowers
There is, however, a romance in the story of the evolution of the modern Delphinium Flower. It is a tale of diligence, patience and selfless devotion by a band of enthusiasts. These were the breeders, the hybridists, those who hand pollinated and line bred, crossing and crossing again the best of one with the finest of another, always attempting to improve the Delphinium Flower in the truth of its colour, its general constitution and disease resistance. Most of this pioneering work was earned out from the mid-nineteenth century.
In the early 20th century, a Czech immigrant, Frank Reinelt, once head gardener to Queen Marie of Romania, settled in California and started a nursery where, for more than 40 years, he worked on hybridising new Delphinium Flowers from crosses between Delphinium elatum and Delphinium grandiflorum. He developed the now famous Pacific Giant hybrids in the 1930s and, by 1967, was offering twelve groups of plants with names taken from Tennyson’s The Idylls of the King, based on the legendary court of King Arthur.
The names have percolated through the years and remain with us still. There is the Astolat group which are lilac pink, ‘Black Knight’, a dramatic deep purple with a black eye, ‘Blue Bird’ with clear blue flowers with white eyes, and ‘Guinevere’ with pale blue pink flowers, also with a white eye. In due course, some seeds of Remelt’s cultivars made their way to England, from whence some of the original Delphinium elatum seed originated.
Also from the turn of the century, the most-celebrated English breeders of Delphinium Flowers – Blackmore and Langdon of Bristol and Frank Bishop – began to develop new varieties of Delphinium Flowers, incorporating the American seed as part parents.
Varieties of Delphinium Flowers
New strains to emerge eventually include such names as ‘Faust’ (1965), which is deep ultramarine; ‘Mighty Atom’ (1968), a deep lilac purple with double flowers iate in the season; and ‘Cherub’ (1978), a smallish, dainty pinkish mauve with cream eyes. ‘Loch Lever’, a soft mid-blue, was bred by the amateur hybridiser Tom Cowan in 1969.
Yet this blend, procured from different Delphinium species and freely pollinating hybrids, eventually came to be considered by purists as a poisoned chalice. Plants were becoming less reliably perennial. Indeed, their lack of longevity caused alarm among enthusiasts. But it must be understood that in the 1950s and 1960s, Reinelt was breeding Delphinium Flowers for his American customers – who grew them as annuals or biennials as the plants exhausted themselves in one season because of the climate.
Another debilitating factor for Delphinium Flowers was the fact that hybrids do not reliably come true from seed. The only ways of replicating a hybrid or cultivar are by division of roots or cuttings. This is a time consuming process, rendering it impractical and commercially unviable.
So Delphinium seeds are the thing. This led to “The Delphinium Society” publishing a strong warning to readers to avoid seed grown Delphinium Flowers sold in garden centres and to buy only those plants raised from cuttings and offered by specialist nurseries. The Year Book cites the results of trials by Gardening of the Pacific Hybrids, which found that only three out of eight varieties of Delphinium Flowers were worth considering, and even those had drawbacks.
But there is a group of hybrid Delphinium Flowers that is almost universally admired by even the most critical of growers. The Belladonna hybrids are more sprightly than the elatum hybrid pyramids, with single flowers along branching stems and deeply divided, almost fern-like leaves. Especially recommended is the violet blue ‘Lamartine’ and ‘Moerheimii’ that grows to four feet (1.2m) with white flowers. These charming additions to the varieties of Delphinium Flowers adapt well – even to the fror of the border, for they have see-through personalities. They can also be grown successfully from seed.
So what is the future of the Delphinium Flowers? The strictures of financial viability will determine the survival of any form of commercial future for our garden plants. If fine, healthy, perennial delphiniums can only be achieved from cuttings, as seems to be the case, then the future of the plant remains in the hands of a dedicated and passionate band of amateur or professional growers.
They will ensure that the delphinium species survives.
How To Grow Delphinium Flowers
Delphinium Flowers are heavy feeders and thrive on a diet of well rotted manure, dug well into the soil prior to planting. Delphiniums must have plenty of water bearing soil that is well drained.
It is important to water your plants in summer when there is a lot of heat. Feed during spring and summer with a well balanced fertiliser, preferably not too high in nitrogen.
Unobtrusive staking should be in place early in the season; use twiggy bits such as hazel or beech primings adding larger pieces as the flower stems rise.
You should also use abundant amounts of coarse grit to protect the crowns and new shoots. For a second, rather smaller flowering, cut down the spent stems and foliage to ground level after flowering than water and feed well thereafter.
There are many aspects of caring for Delphinium Flowers that must be addressed. This includes deadheading the first flowers in early summer. You can remove flower stalks once the flowers have finished blooming. You can expect a devastating show of Delphinium Flowers in late summer or in early autumn when all blooms are removed and moisture and fertilization requirements are met. It is in this time of year that the Delphinium Flowers are at their most stunning beauty.
A short-lived perennial, such as the Delphinium Flower, may not survive the final blooming year, but the striking growth and strong long-lasting blooms make it worthwhile for the effort.
If you want to grow a taller Delphinium you’ll need to be sure to stake it, particularly when planted in windy or rainy zones. It is a fact that stems break easily in this condition due to their hollow nature.
Delphinium plants may be attacked by a number of diseases and insects. You can propagate delphiniums from seeds or cuttings. It is not recommended, however, to propagate them from dead or diseased plants.
How To Grow Delphinium Flowers from Seeds
In order to get good germination results from Delphinium seeds, they should be put in the refrigerator for a week prior to planting.
Begin sowing Delphinium seeds indoors at least eight weeks before the last frost of the season. In case you have seedlings already, you can sow them directly into flower beds in early summer.
In the case of sowing outside, it is recommended to wait for the seeds to germinate first.
The seedlings of Delphinium Flowers should grow within a few weeks after they have been planted. Let them get plenty of light at this point, especially if you are keeping them indoors.
It is necessary that before seedlings are transplanted outdoors, they have at least two pairs of true leaves. The seedlings need to be hardened off a few days before transplanting, so place the seed trays outside in a cool sheltered area for about one week.
The plants must be planted with the minimum distance of 18 inches between each of them in the flower bed. It’s not uncommon for Delphinium plants to require excessive amounts of nitrogen, which is why it’s advantageous to add the organic matter, known as compost, to the soil before planting its seedlings.