If you’ve tried to grow delphiniums without success, you might want to try larkspur flowers instead.
They are annual cousins of delphiniums, which are perennials. Whereas delphiniums need cool temperatures, ideal soil moisture, and plenty of care, larkspurs are tough, hardy, and resilient.
Larkspur flowers (Consolida ajacis) provide tall, colorful blooms in the early growing season. Look for their blooms in the spring.
They are similar to delphiniums in that they have:
- A vertical form,
- Green feathery foliage,
- Clusters of pink, blue, or white flowers forming on their stalks.
They were first introduced to England from Italy in the 16th century and they didn’t take long to gain popularity. Early colonists brought them to America, where they became centerpieces in colonial gardens. They can also be used for indoor decor as cut flowers in vases.
Larkspur flowers are easy to grow and even easier to take care of. Here’s what you need to know.
Growing Larkspur From Seeds
Planting larkspur seeds can be a challenging process; you’ll need patience.
Annual larkspur flowers are often grown from seeds. They can be transplanted, but this involves a lot of care and attention. Larkspur plants are known to grow best from seeds because of their long taproots. Moving them about can easily affect their roots, making transplanting a hassle.
Larkspur seeds need a cold period before they germinate. This can be done in three various ways:
- Before you plant the seeds.
- After you have planted the seeds in pots.
- After you have sown the seeds into the flower bed.
You can chill your larkspur seeds in the refrigerator before planting. This is actually the most reliable method.
These seeds need to be protected for two weeks before they are planted. You can put the seeds in a ziplock back with a handful of damp perlite. The perlite will provide moisture for the seeds.
You can also plant larkspur seeds in containers or planters that are easy to move around. Be mindful of their height and weight as they will grow to fit into your containers.
If you have access to a cold room or basement that allows temperatures between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit you can plant the seeds in moist soil and leave them to chill for two weeks.
The seeds will not germinate in temperatures that go above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
When planting larkspur seeds, you need to be mindful of the first frost in your area. The seeds should be planted early enough to give the root system time to develop and hold the plants through the winter.
Your larkspur seeds should germinate in 2-3 weeks. Sow the seeds in the garden in early spring or fall in warm climates. You should water the seeds deeply to boost root development, but do not let them stand in water.
You can officially move your plants into permanent containers or your garden when the seedlings have grown leaves.
Once this stage is done, you really don’t need to do much with them. They are among the easiest annuals to maintain. Simply enjoy them in your garden or cut flowers to bring into your home.
Optimal Growing Conditions for Larkspur
They can tolerate most soils, but if you want the best results, go for light, well-draining soil. If your area has heavy soils, you can amend them with compost or manure.
Larkspur plants grow well in full sun, as long as the soil is slightly moist. They need less moisture than delphiniums, but they don’t bloom well in hot and dry conditions.
Water your plant in the summer if rainfall is under 1 inch per week.
In early spring, add a thin layer of compost and a 2-inch layer of mulch to help hold in the moisture. This will also control the weeds growing on larkspur flower beds.
If you want to mix and match a few flowers in your garden, you can plant larkspur with other native and cottage flowers. Why not add a few coreopsis, daisies, lavender, black-eyed Susans, or coneflowers?
These perennials grow quickly and can reach 3 feet in one season. You may need to stake the wispy stems, especially in windy weather.
They readily self sow. Depending on how you look at it, this could be a solution or a problem.
On one hand, they can become invasive and spread through your garden. On the other hand, you may only need to plant them once and they’ll come up year after year.
If they do become invasive, remove the spent stems and pull up any unwanted recruits.
This is why wild larkspur is sometimes regarded as a nuisance. Especially in fields where livestock forage, because the plants are poisonous and can be fatal.
In some areas, ranchers may experience death losses of up to 15% due to the ingestion of Larkspur.
In the home garden, it is important to note that seeds of an ornamental larkspur flower are poisonous. Make sure you grow the plants away from children and pets.
How to Keep Pests Away
A delphinium can become pouty in the heat of summer. This is another shared characteristic between the two plants. The problem is a cosmetic one that appears in the hot oppressive weather of late summer.
If your flower turns brown, cut them down. Leave a few plants and flower heads in place to repopulate the garden next summer.
To combat these problems you can use soaker hoses rather than overhead sprinklers. The soil must remain moist, not soggy.
To keep your larkspur happy:
- Set snail traps to deter snails and slugs.
- Treat powdery mildew with fungicides.
- Cut down severely infected plants and discard them.
Larkspur Cultivars Worth Trying
A variety of cultivars are available for your garden:
- The ‘Sublime’ plant produces 4 feet tall stalks with a profusion of blooms.
- When it comes to ‘Imperial’ larkspur, the flower colors are purple, blue, pink, and white and can reach 4 feet.
- ‘Cloudy Skies’ is a mix that includes blue, purple, white, and silver flowers. The plants grow to be 3 feet tall.
If you enjoy crafting bouquets from your flower garden, you might like to know 15 ways to make freshly cut flowers last without chemicals. Cut flower production with larkspurs is easy for a gardener because of its tendency to reseed itself year after year.
They make excellent cut flowers. You can snip off a few flowers with scissors as they begin to fade and put them in a vase. This flower can be beautifully used in arrangements.
There are two varieties of the flower – Consolida orientalis and Consolida ambigua – that make ideal cut flowers.
If you want to use the flower in dried arrangements or cut flower production you need to be cautious when you harvest the flowering plants. A cut flower that blooms will begin to drop in 24 hours.
A Larkspur flower will retain its beautiful colors after it has been dried properly. This flower blooms in a wide spectrum of color ranging from violet to blue to white. They make for a quite eye-catching display to have in your garden.
It doesn’t end there. There are numerous articles you can read to learn about fruits, vegetables, and various plants to capitalize on your garden.
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