Learning to how to grow Delphiniums (Delphinium elatum) from seed is an easy process, but will require some patience! I assure you, these Perennial, Rocket like blooms are definitely worth the wait!
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Where did Delphiniums get their name from?
Delphinium’s are named after the Greek word ‘delphis,’ which means Dolphin. This is in reference to the shape of Delphiniums closed flower buds, they bear some resemblance to the shape of a Dolphin’s nose. According to Greek Mythology the Delphinium is also a gift from the gods! specifically, the God Aias (a warrior of great courage) it is believed that when God Aias died on the battlefield and Delphiniums grew from his blood.
Delphiniums are a joyful plant! They are symbolic of cheerfulness and goodwill. They are also often described as a protective plant and a guardian of the home.
The Gift of Delphinium
Delphiniums are a wonderful gift to convey encouragement and Joy, an ideal living gift for a New Home, New Job….new adventure! They are also the official Birth Flower for July.
There are over 300 species of delphiniums which belong to the Ranunculaceae family. Delphiniums are also sometimes known as Larkspur (an annual species of the Delphinium).
Delphinium (Delphinium elatum) is an herbaceous perennial that is native to Southern and Central Europe. They have a very long history, with species being cultivated as far back as 1578. They can grow to heights of 5ft and have densely packed central flower spikes full of showy blue florets, sometimes as many as 100 flowers per spike! There is generally just 1 main flower spike (Raceme) with smaller side spikes growing below the primary bloom.
Delphinium don’t just come in Blue! Other Colours are Pink, White, Pale Blue, Dark Blue and lilac. Here are some links to some varieties I recommend…
Magic Fountain Delphinium Seeds (Dusky pink shades)
Pacific Giant Delphinium Seeds (Dark Blue shades, My favourite!)
Pacific Giant, Galahad Delphinium Seeds (White)
Round Table Delphinium Seeds (Lilacs, Pinks and Whites)
How To Grow Delphiniums
Will Delphiniums bloom the first year? It’s important to mention, Delphiniums grown from seed will not bloom the first year but the second.
Sowing delphinium seeds
- Sow Delphinium Seeds January-May.
- Fill a seed tray, pot or modules with damp compost and scatter Delphinium seeds onto the surface. Cover Lightly with Compost
- Cover with a Propagator lid or cling wrap
- Place on a sunny windowsill. Water lightly
- Remove Propagator lid or cling wrap as soon as seedlings emerge
As soon as seedling are large enough to handle, prick out and pot on into individual pots or modules. Plant out in their permanent spot Early-Mid Summer (Around May-June). Be sure to harden them off first.
What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
Where should you Plant Delphiniums?
Choose a spot with full sun or dappled shade. Delphiniums also like a well-drained soil. You can always dig in some grit to help with this. *Note: Delphiniums need to endure a winter season before they can bloom the following year. If drainage is a problem and the plants have to sit in Waterlogged soil, they will die, so please think ahead with the drainage. Plant them around 50 cm apart, this allows for good air circulation, preventing powdery mildew.
Fertiliser for Delphiniums
Delphiniums quite like a rich soil, so by all means add in some Organic matter to the planting hole, or alternatively add a slow release fertiliser- fish, blood and Bone.
How To Care For Delphiniums
- Young Delphinium shoots begin to emerge from the ground around March and they are just the Appetiser for hungry slugs…so be sure to protect them, try Nemaslug.
- Growing Delphiniums will also require staking, a heavy gust of wind can easily snap the stems so offer them some structural help.
- Water frequently, more so during periods of drought
Delphiniums will flower from June and July. Once the Flowers begin to fade and look a little tired, cut the flowering spikes down to the ground. You’ll get another flush of blooms in late summer! (Around August-September)
Can You grow Delphinium in pots?
Absolutely! But be aware that Delphiniums do like moisture during dry periods, so keep on top of the watering and make sure the pot you choose has good drainage.
Delphinium Vase Life
You can expect Delphiniums to last around five to eight days in a vase of water. Pick when most of the florets have opened
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