Delphiniums You Can Grow Them

A local garden club I once knew, in its early enthusiasm, chose the delphinium as the “community flower.” Every gardener in the town was asked to have at least a few delphiniums in their flower garden, and the more they had the better. But when almost no one succeeded in getting delphiniums to grow or bloom, the idea of having a community flower was dropped.

The garden club had forgotten that the flower chosen to be stressed in a community must be so easy to grow that anybody who knows anything about gardening can grow it. Soil and weather must be favorable, and the growers must have some knowledge of proper culture including fertilization and control of diseases to which the plant may be subject.

assorted growing delphiniums

The delphinium can be grown almost anywhere in the cooler regions of the north temperate zone, which is its native habitat. It should be chosen as community flower, though, only in areas that approach the ideal. Gardeners who are willing to learn its needs can have good success with it whenever a “reasonable facsimile” of the ideal climate can be secured.

There are at least 60 species of delphinium, practically all of which are natives of the north temperate zone. It gets its name from the dolphin, the sea mammal whose head the flower is supposed to resemble. It is a close relative of the larkspur and is often confused with that flower. Wild larkspur and wild delphinium are frequently found growing under identical conditions and close to each other. They both seem to bloom freely over long periods and seem almost free from the diseases that afflict their garden cousins.

Often Short Lived

Delphiniums include both annual and perennial species. Almost all of the cultivated species are perennial, the most notable exception being the lovely blue Chinese single. Under ideal conditions, the four most commonly cultivated species of delphiniums are true perennials; but where conditions are not ideal, it is wise for the non-expert grower to think of delphiniums as annuals even though some of them may live and bloom well for more than one year. Being realistic about this matter not only wards off disappointment, but makes the gardener eager to see what he can do to get longer life in his own specimens…not a hopeless task by any means.

Delphiniums will bloom each year from seed if planting directions are correctly followed. In the case of the delphinium, it is possible to continue the life of our favorite plants by making either root divisions or stem cuttings year after year. You can also increase the number of your favorites by the same methods. Either of these methods will come nearer giving you exact duplicates of your favorites than any other. The flowers of a given delphinium are likely to vary somewhat in their coloring, as growers of delphinium seed will tell you, but Nature seldom makes mistakes in mixing her colors.

You can buy delphinium plants, but many real gardeners prefer to grow their own. Delphiniums are great seed producers throughout their season of bloom. Frequently a bloom stalk will have fresh blossoms at the top and ripe seeds at the bottom. If you want to save seeds, it is wise to pick the seedpods before they open. Usually, their appearance will tell you when they are ready. If you wait a little too long, wind or rain will open the pods and scatter the black seeds they contain on the ground where they are practically invisible.

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