Delphiniums: growing from seed in the garden

Table of Contents


Delphinium flower (spurge or larkspur)-1 “Living lace”, “king of blue flowers” – these poetic titles delphinium got for a reason, because the beauty of this flower is really fascinating, its openwork arrows can be viewed endlessly!

Opinions of florists are divided in another way: some confidently attributes this flower culture to unpretentious, and someone is convinced that without a little gardening tricks really royal delphinium can not grow …

  • How to protect delphinium seedlings from “black leg”?
  • How and when to carry out health thinning of bushes?
  • Is it really impossible for delphiniums to “sit” in one place for a long time?
  • What are the dangers of autumn flowering for this plant?

The answers – in our article, use it to your health, and let delphinium become for you not only the most beautiful but also the easiest to care for flower!

Planting and care of delphinium

  • Perennials: sowing in seedlings in March, seedlings planted in the ground – in June, sowing seeds directly into the ground – in April and May. Annuals: sowing seeds in spring or under the winter.
  • Flowering: Summer.
  • Lighting: full sun with shading in the afternoon.
  • Soil: Sandy loam or loamy, moderately moist, rich in humus, neutral or slightly acidic.
  • Watering: During dry periods every week at the rate of 2-3 buckets of water per plant. After watering or raining – mandatory loosening of soil to a depth of 3-5 cm.
  • Fertilizing: mineral and organic fertilizers: 1st – when the shoots reach a height of 10-15 cm, 2nd – at the beginning of flowering, 3rd – at the end of flowering. After each fertilization, abundant watering is necessary.
  • Thinning and garter bushes: mandatory.
  • Propagation: annuals – by seeds, perennials – by seeds and vegetatively (dividing rhizomes, cuttings).
  • Diseases: powdery mildew, root rot, peronosporosis, fusarium, rust, viral infections such as blotches and mosaics.
  • Pests: mites, orbs, meadow nematodes, aphids and slugs.
Read more about growing delphinium below

Delphinium (lat. Delphinium) is a genus of herbaceous plants in the Buttercup family. Other names are larkspur, spurge. Counts about 450 species of annual and perennial plants. Delphinium annuals, which include about 40 species, sometimes allocated to a related genus and called sokirkami (Consolida). Delphiniums grow in China (about 150 species) and throughout Southeast Asia, in the mountains of tropical Africa, in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Many believe that the unopened delphinium is a flower that looks like a dolphin’s head, hence the name, but there is an opinion that the delphinium flowers got their name after the Greek city of Delphi, where they grow, they say, a great many of them. Be that as it may, the rare florist would not agree that this luxurious flower would grace any flower bed.

Features of the flower

Growing delphinium is not an easy matter, it requires knowledge and labor. First, the planting place must be necessarily sunny in the first half of the day and closed from strong winds, as well as being in an area where water does not stagnate, otherwise the delphinium will simply rot. After planting, mulching with peat or humus is mandatory. In one place delphiniums grow no more than 5-6 years, and the Pacific species, less durable, no more than 3-4, then the bushes must be divided and replanted.

Delphiniums require repeated tying to keep their hollow stems from being broken by the wind. In addition, delphiniums are sometimes affected by powdery mildew and some kinds of pests. But if you are willing to fulfill all the whims of delphinium, it will reward you with a lush long bloom in June and another, shorter, but no less beautiful, in August or September.

Growing delphinium from seed

Sowing in seedlings

Growing perennial delphinium from seed is not only a profitable occupation compared to the purchase of planting material, but also a fascinating one. Delphinium is propagated not only by seeds, but also by dividing the rhizome, buds and cuttings, but in this section we will tell you how to grow delphinium from seeds. Sowing delphinium is done in late February.

Remember: if the seeds are stored in a dry, warm place, germination is lost. Fresh seeds should be sown immediately or kept in the refrigerator until needed.

Delphinium seeds-4 Before sowing, it is necessary to decontaminate the seeds: placing them in a gauze bag and dipping them for twenty minutes in a solution of manganese dye of a thick pink color. Instead of manganese, a fungicide can be used, preparing a solution according to the instructions. Then rinse the seeds thoroughly with cold water and soak them in a solution of Epin (a couple of drops per 100ml water) for 24 hours without taking them out of the bag. After that, dry the seeds so they don’t stick together.

Prepare the soil for the seeds: take equal parts peat, garden soil and humus(compost), add half of washed sand, sift. To increase the moisture capacity and friability of the soil, add perlite at the rate of half a cup per 5 liters of soil mixture. Now warm the mixture for an hour in a water bath to kill weed seeds and fungal spores. Fill the seed planting containers with the mixture and lightly compact it.

Sowing delphinium seeds-5 Pictured: How to sow delphinium seeds for seedlings

Planting delphinium: distribute the seeds on the surface of the soil, immediately fixing labels with the name of the variety and the date of sowing. Sprinkle a 3 mm layer of soil mixture on top of the seeds, so that the seeds will not float at the first watering, and slightly compact the top layer. Gently water or spray the surface with cold boiled water. Cover the container with a transparent cover and then a black film or curtain, as the seeds of delphinium germinate better in the dark, and put the container on a window sill closer to the glass.

The optimum temperature for seed germination is +10-15 ºC.

To increase germination, put the container in the fridge or on a glazed balcony after 3-4 days, and don’t be afraid if the night temperature drops to -5 ºC there. After two weeks, put the container with the seeds back on the window sill. After this process(stratification) you should see germination in a week or two, so make sure you don’t miss it and take the plastic off right away. Do not forget to make sure that the soil does not dry out, sprinkle it from time to time and ventilate the container to get rid of condensation.

Delphinium seed care after planting-6 Picture: Germinating delphinium seeds in a container

Seedling care

Healthy sprouts – dark green, strong, their seedpods characteristically pointed. When the plants have 2-3 leaves, you can pick plants in pots of 200-300 ml with subsequent ramping them at a temperature not exceeding 20 º C. The soil should be loose, breathable, watering – very moderate, so as not to appear “black leg”, which will lead to the death of seedlings. From the beginning of May gradually accustom the seedlings to fresh air, not removing them from the window sill during airing. Let her stay in bright sunshine for a while as well.

Nourish delphinium seedlings to planting in the open air 1-2 times with a break of 2 weeks Agricola or Rasvorin so that the solution does not get on the leaves. Overgrown seedlings can be planted in the open air, when the clod of soil in the pot is already all braided with roots – the seedlings can be easily removed with the clod without damaging the root system.

Delphinium seedlings-7 Pictured: Germinated delphinium seedlings

Planting delphinium

Delphinium seedlings are planted in the open ground when the threat of frost is over. The place, as mentioned above, should be sunny before lunch and without stagnant moisture. How to plant delphinium? For planting, at a distance of 60-70 cm from each other, dig holes 40 cm in diameter and 50 cm deep, pour into each of them half a bucket of humus(compost), two tablespoons of complex fertilizer and a glass of ash, mix with soil so that fertilizer does not get on the plant root, then make a depression, place the seedling in it, soil around it to compact and water the bed. The first time it is better to cover each seedling with a plastic bottle or glass jar, until the plants are properly rooted, but as soon as the delphiniums grow, the cover should be removed.

Delphinium seedling-8

Care for delphiniums

When the shoots grow to 10-15 cm, they are fed with a solution of cow manure in the proportion of 1 bucket of manure for 10 buckets of water – for 5 large bushes. The bed after removing weeds and loosening the soil should be mulched with a three-inch layer of humus or peat. To thin the bushes proceed when the stems become 20-30 cm in height: you need to leave 3-5 stems in the bush, which will allow you to get larger and more beautiful inflorescences. Remove the weaker shoots of the inner part of the bush by breaking off or cutting them off near the ground. This will protect the plant from disease and allow air to circulate.

Cut cuttings, if they are not already hollow and cut with a heel (part of the rhizome), can be rooted.

The cut is treated with a mixture of charcoal and crushed heteroauxin tablets, buried in a mixture of sand and peat and placed under the film. After 3-6 weeks the cuttings put down roots, and two weeks later it is planted in the open ground – that’s the answer to the question of how to grow delphinium vegetatively, in this case – cutting.

Delphiniums-9 When plants reach 40-50 cm in height, near each bush, trying not to damage the roots, dig three supporting bars (laths) up to 180 cm high, to which the stems are tied delphinium ribbons or strips of cloth, so that when a strong wind they do not cut into the stems and did not hurt them. The next tying is done at a height of 100-120 cm.

During the growing season, each delphinium “drinks” up to 60 liters of water. How to grow delphinium in a dry summer? You need to pour 2-3 buckets of water under each bush every week. When the soil dries up after watering, you need to loosen it to a depth of 3-5 cm. Especially delphiniums need watering during the formation of inflorescences, and if at this time comes the heat, then in the inflorescence will appear “gaps of the brush”, that is, areas without flowers. To avoid this, abundant watering and feeding with potassium-phosphorus fertilizer at the rate of 20 g of fertilizer per bucket of water – one liter of solution under each bush is needed.

Delphinium flowers-10 In the second half of summer, powdery mildew, a fungal disease that covers the leaves with a white coating, which then turns brown, can appear on the plants. If you do not take action on time, the entire above-ground part of the plant will die. At the first signs it is necessary to spray the delphiniums twice with a solution of Topaz or Fundazole. Sometimes black spots appear on the leaves of delphinium, spreading from the bottom of the plant to the top. This is a black spot, which can be dealt with only in the early stages, spraying the leaves twice with a solution of tetracycline in the proportion of 1 tablet per 1 liter of water.

Delphiniums are also affected by ring spot disease, which stains the leaves with yellow spots. This is a viral disease, it is impossible to cure, and the affected plants will have to be removed. But with the carrier of the virus, aphids, it is necessary to fight: spray plants with Carbophos or Aktellik for prevention. Of pests, the plant is afraid of the delphinium fly, which lays its eggs in the buds, and slugs. The fly is fought with insecticides, and slugs scare away the smell of bleach, which can be in cans to put between the bushes delphinium.

After flowering, the inflorescences are cut off, seeds are collected, but new shoots appear, and in the fall, delphiniums bloom again. In late summer or early fall, between the first and second flowering, you can carry out the division of three- to four-year-old bushes of delphinium. The bush should be dug up, carefully divided or cut with a knife so as not to damage the buds of renewal, cover the cuts with wood ash and plant the divided parts. This is another method of vegetative propagation of delphinium.

Delphinium after flowering

When the leaves withered after flowering, delphinium stems are cut at a height of 30-40 cm from the ground and for reliability the top of the tube (hollow stem) is covered with clay. This is done to ensure that the fall rains and meltwater do not get through the cavity to the root neck and did not contribute to the death of the plant from rotting rhizomes. Almost all delphiniums are frost-resistant, both adult plants and seedlings. If the winter is cold and snowless, beds with delphiniums should be covered with lapnuts or straw. Only frequent and sudden changes in temperature can kill the plants, because it leads to excess moisture, which can rot the rhizomes. The best way to avoid this is to fill in half a bucket of sand at the bottom of the hole when planting, so that extra moisture can escape through it deep into the hole.

You may think at first that dealing with this plant, especially growing delphinium from seed, is too much trouble, but if you don’t mind the hassle and put in a little time and effort, the results will exceed your expectations.

Types of delphiniums

Delphiniums come in annuals and perennials. Of the annual delphiniums, the best known varieties are Field Delphinium and Ajax Delphinium.

Delphinium Field (Delphinium consolida)

This is a tall plant, almost two meters tall. Flowers in inflorescences are simple or floral, pink, white, lilac or blue. In culture since 1572. Very impressive looking varieties are Frosted Sky (blue flowers with a white center), pale pink Qis Rose and dark blue Qis Dark Blue. Field delphinium blooms in early summer and blooms until fall.

Delphinium leaves-12 Pictured: What the leaves of the ornamental delphinium look like

Delphinium Ajax.

A hybrid of Doubtful delphinium and Oriental delphinium, which received as a result of breeding their best qualities. This species has a stem height of 40 cm to 1 m, almost sessile leaves strongly dissected, spike-like inflorescences, reaching 30 cm in length, come in a variety of colors: purple, red, blue, pink, blue and white. Some varieties have dense-branched flowers. There are dwarf varieties such as Dwarf Hyacinth-flowered, up to 30 cm in height with macroflowers of purple, pink, crimson and white. Ajax delphiniums bloom from June until frost.

Delphinium hybrid.

Cultivation of the perennial delphinium in culture began in the 19th century: Breeders based on the first perennials Delphinium Elatum (Delphinium tall) and Delphinium Grandiflora (Delphinium grandiflora) by crossing obtained the first hybrids (Delphinium Barlowii – Delphinium Barlow, Delphinium Formosum – Delphinium beautiful and Delphinium belladonna – Delphinium belladonna), and then the Frenchman Victor Lemoine developed the mottled forms of purple, blue and lavender perennials, which were called Delphinium ornatum (beautiful) or “hybrid” (Delphinium hybridum) and then renamed “cultivated” (Delphinium cultorum). Today the perennial delphiniums in their color palette number up to 800 shades! Among them there are high, medium height and low varieties with simple, semi-maximum, macro and supermaximum flowers ranging in size from 2 cm to 9 cm in diameter.

Delphinium Consolida-13 In the photo: Field Delphinium Consolida

Hybrid perennials are divided into groups according to the place of origin. The most popular are Scottish (hybrids F1), New Zealand Delphiniums (New Millennium Delphiniums, or New Zealand Hybrids) and Marfino hybrids, named after the state farm Marfino. Each group has its own differences and advantages. Marfino, for example, have excellent frost resistance and high decorativeness, they have large semi-major flowers with bright contrasting eyes (Blue Lace, Morpheus, Spring Snow, Pink Sunset). But it is problematic to grow Marfa perennial delphinium from seeds, because the seeds do not retain the varietal traits.

The New Zealand group, created not so long ago, is characterized by high growth (up to 2.2 m), large semi-major or macroflowers (7-9 cm in diameter), some species have corrugated petals. These hybrids are hardy, resistant to disease, long-lasting, perfectly worth cutting and that’s why they are the most popular today. Growing New Zealand delphiniums is a rewarding and profitable activity if you make money selling flowers. Popular varieties include Sunny Skies, Green Twist, Pagan Purples, Blue Lace, Sweethearts.

New Millennium Delphiniums-14 Pictured: New Millennium Delphiniums

The author of Scottish hybrid perennial delphiniums is Tony Coakley. These hybrids are characterized by very dense inflorescences of superflower and macro flowers, sometimes numbering up to 58 petals. When the plant is 1.1-1.5 m tall, the inflorescence reaches 80 cm in length! “Scotsmen” have a wide range of colors, are unpretentious, long-lived and perfectly retain their varietal properties when propagated by seed. The best known varieties are Morning Sunrise, Blueberry Pie, Moon Light, Sweet Sensation, Crystal Delight and Deepest Pink.


  1. Read about the subject on Wikipedia
  2. Features and other plants of the Buttercup family
  3. All Species List at The Plant List
  4. More information at World Flora Online