Ranunculaceae family consists of more than 2,000 annual and perennial plant species, distributed worldwide. The species are herbaceous, rarely shrubs, semi-shrubs, and lianas.
The genera Delphinium and Consolida are collectively known with the common name Larkspur.
- What is Delphinium?
- What is Larkspur?
- Difference Between Delphinium and Larkspur
- Summary of Delphinium vs Larkspur:
- Larkspur in History
- Colors and Symbolism
- Fun Facts about Larkspur
- Larkspur – FSN’s Favorite Flower For January
- It’s Not Rocket Science! Defusing Myths About Larkspur’s Challenging Nature
- Etymology & History of Larkspur
- Larkspur’s Role in Folklore & Herbalism
- Growing Larkspur in the Garden
- Growing Larkspur from Seed
- Let Seed Needs Help You Launch Your Garden
- Larkspur – Key Growing Information
- The Larkspur Flower: Its Meanings & Symbolism
- Symbolism of the Larkspur Flower
- All About the Larkspur Flower
What is Delphinium?
Delphinium is a genus in the Ranunculaceae family, comprising of about 370 species. Its distribution ranges throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere – from the Mediterranean region to Japan, Siberia, and North America.
The center of origin and diversity of the genus are the eastern Himalayas and southwest China. More than 40% of all Delphinium species are found there.
Delphinium occurs in a great variety of habits. Species, inhabiting the alpine zone are up to 10 cm tall, while some of the low-land species may grow more than 2 m tall.
The Delphinium species are annuals, biennials, and perennials. In general, the annual and biennial species are more typical for the Mediterranean areas, while perennial species are more common in cold and wet climate, and high altitude.
The name comes from the Greek word “delphisfor”, meaning dolphin and is related to the shape of the nectary spur, resembling the shape of a cetacean.
The nectary spur is an extension of one of the sepals. The flowers of Delphinium sp. are situated in a dense column. The flower has 3 to 5 pistils, thus forming 3 to 5 fruits.
Delphinium plants, ranging in color from blue and purple to pink and white are popular garden flowers. The genus includes medicinal and poisonous plants. The main bioactive components of the genus are diterpenoid alkaloids. Species of the genus have medicinal properties, including antiarrhythmic, arrhythmic, hypotensive, curariform, neurotropic, psychotropic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic activity, etc. The plants can cause poisoning in cattle and in humans.
Representatives of the genus are Delphinium andersonii, Delphinium brunonianum, Delphinium luteum, Delphinium malabaricum, Delphinium viridescens, etc.
What is Larkspur?
Larkspur is a common name, collectively used for two genera of the Ranunculaceae family – Delphinium and Consolida.
The name “Larkspur” is related to the spur-shaped calyx of the flowers of both genera.
Delphinium and Consolida are closely related genera. Based on DNA analysis, some researchers suggest including Consolida in the Delphinium genus.
Consolida is a relatively small genus, of about 40 species. The species consists of annual flowering plants, native to Mediterranean region, Asia and Western Europe. The center of origin and diversity of the genus are Irano-Turanian region and the Mediterranean basin.
The flowers of Consolida species are situated in an open, often branched, loose, spike. Consolida species have only one pendant in the color and thus form only one fruit of each flower.
Larkspur species are popular cut flowers and garden plants. The group includes medicinal and poisonous plants. The main bioactive components are diterpenoid alkaloids. They have medicinal properties, including diuretic, hypnotic, purgative, vasodilator, antiarrhythmic, hypotensive, curariform, neurotropic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic activity, etc. Larkspur species are used to kill ectoparasites. The plants can cause poisoning in cattle and in humans.
Examples of Larkspur are Delphinium andersonii, Delphinium arthriscifolium, Consolida cruciata, Consolida glandulosa, Consolida lineolata, etc.
Difference Between Delphinium and Larkspur
Delphinium: Delphinium is a genus in the Ranunculaceae family, comprising of about 370 species.
Larkspur: Larkspur is a common name, collectively used for two genera of the Ranunculaceae family – Delphinium and Consolida.
Delphinium: Delphinium comprises of about 370 species.
Larkspur: Larkspur comprises of about 410 species.
Delphinium: The center of origin and diversity of the genus are the eastern Himalayas and southwest China.
Larkspur: The center of origin and diversity of the group are the eastern Himalayas, southwest China, Irano-Turanian region and the Mediterranean basin.
Delphinium: The name comes from the Greek word “delphisfor”, meaning dolphin and is related to the shape of the nectary spur, resembling the shape of a cetacean.
Larkspur: The name “Larkspur” is related to the spur-shaped calyx of the flowers of both genera.
Delphinium: The flowers of Delphinium sp. are situated in a dense column. The flower has 3 to 5 pistils, thus forming 3 to 5 fruits.
Larkspur: The flowers of Larkspur can be situated in a dense column or in an open, often branched, loose, spike. Each flower can have 3 to 5 pistils, thus forming 3 to 5 fruits, or only one pendant, thus forming only one fruit.
Delphinium: The medicinal properties of Delphinium include antiarrhythmic, arrhythmic, hypotensive, curariform, neurotropic, psychotropic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic activity, etc.
Larkspur: The medicinal properties of Larkspur include diuretic, hypnotic, purgative, vasodilator, antiarrhythmic, hypotensive, curariform, neurotropic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic activity, etc.
Delphinium: Examples of Delphinium are Delphinium andersonii, Delphinium brunonianum, Delphinium luteum, Delphinium malabaricum, Delphinium viridescens, etc.
Larkspur: Examples of Larkspur are Delphinium andersonii, Delphinium arthriscifolium, Consolida cruciata, Consolida glandulosa, Consolida lineolata, etc.
Delphinium vs Larkspur: Comparison Table
Summary of Delphinium vs Larkspur:
- Ranunculaceae family consists of 43 genera, including Ranunculus, Delphinium, Thalictrum, Consolida, etc.
- The genera Delphinium and Consolida are collectively known with the common name Larkspur.
- Delphinium comprises of about 370 species. Larkspur comprises of about 410 species.
- The center of origin and diversity of Delphinium are the eastern Himalayas and southwest China. The center of origin and diversity of the Larkspur are the eastern Himalayas, southwest China, Irano-Turanian region and the Mediterranean basin.
- The name “Delphinium” comes from the Greek word “delphisfor”, meaning dolphin and is related to the shape of the nectary spur, resembling the shape of a cetacean. The name “Larkspur” is related to the spur-shaped calyx of the flowers of both genera.
- The flowers of Delphinium sp. are situated in a dense column. Each flower has 3 to 5 pistils, thus forming 3 to 5 fruits. The flowers of Larkspur can be situated in a dense column or in an open, often branched, loose, spike. Each flower can have 1, 3, 4 or 5 pistils, thus forming 1, 3, 4 or 5 fruits.
- The medicinal properties of Delphinium include antiarrhythmic, arrhythmic, hypotensive, curariform, neurotropic, psychotropic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic activity, etc. The medicinal properties of Larkspur include diuretic, hypnotic, purgative, vasodilator, antiarrhythmic, hypotensive, curariform, neurotropic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic activity, etc.
- Examples of Delphinium are Delphinium andersonii, Delphinium brunonianum, Delphinium luteum, Delphinium malabaricum, Delphinium viridescens, etc. Examples of Larkspur are Delphinium andersonii, Delphinium arthriscifolium, Consolida cruciata, Consolida glandulosa, Consolida lineolata, etc.
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Dr. Mariam Bozhilova Forest Research Institute, BAS
Environmental Expert with PhD in Botany at Forest Research Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Mariam has a Master’s degree in Ecology and a PhD in Botany.
Currently, she works in the Forest Research Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
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The birthday flower of July is the lovely Larkspur, which symbolizes carefree summer days, feeling lighthearted, and just having fun. Larkspur is a highly desirable cut flower with tall spikes of colorful petals that look as perfect in a cut glass vase on the dining room table as they do sitting in a rustic basket or bucket at a casual backyard party.
Many people confuse larkspur plants with delphinium plants. Although they look similar and are both members of the buttercup family, larkspur are annuals with more delicate flowers in shades of white, pink and lavender. Delphinium are perennials with more substantial flowers in shades of purple, blue, red, yellow and white.
Larkspur blooms from early spring through late summer with flowers that can range in size from a few inches to several feet long in the meadowland species. In Shakespeare’s time, Larkspur was also called lark’s heel, lark’s claw and knight’s spur.
Larkspur in History
Larkspur grows throughout the Northern Hemisphere and also in high mountain areas of tropical Africa. The Baker’s larkspur and yellow larkspur are native to California and are both federally listed endangered species. Only a few plants of Baker’s larkspur remain after they were almost entirely wiped out by road crews.
The larkspur flower is mentioned frequently in mythology. Greek legend tells us that Achilles’ mother requested that her son’s armor be given to the bravest warrior during the Battle of Troy. To the dismay of the brave warrior Ajax, the armor was awarded to Ulysses. This so upset Ajax that he threw himself on his sword and small blue larkspur flowers grew up everywhere drops of his blood hit the ground.
Colors and Symbolism
Larkspur were very popular gift flowers in Victorian times. In general, the flowers symbolize an open heart and can be associated with strong romantic feelings. Here are some more specific petal color meanings:
- Pink larkspur flowers represent fickleness.
- White blossoms signify a happy-go-lucky nature.
- Purple represent first love and a sweet disposition.
Fun Facts about Larkspur
- In Transylvania, dried larkspur was placed in stables to keep witches from casting spells on the animals.
- In England, larkspur flowers were used to cure ailments and in Summer Solstice celebrations.
- Native Americans and European settlers made blue dye from larkspur flowers.
- The most ancient use of larkspur flowers was to drive away scorpions.
There is so much to love about the long, lazy months of summer. Giving a lovely bouquet of larkspur as a birthday present is a wonderful way to share the joy of summer with someone special.
Larkspur – FSN’s Favorite Flower For January
For our favorite flower this month*, we chose Delphiniums. Their rare blue colors and love of cool temps make them a perfect choice for January flower arrangements. Read all about this fascinating flower in this article!
Name Meaning: Heavenly
Requirements: fertile, well-drained soil. Stalk tall varieties.
Blossom Size: 2½” across
Fragrance: Light, sweet scent
Silhouette: Spear-shaped stalk
Vase Life: 5-8 Days
Colors: Blue, purple, pink, yellow, orange, white
Bloom Season: Fall
Flowers Available: Year Round
ABOUT DELPHINIUMS/ LARKSPUR
Often called larkspur, the Delphinium is a genus of mountain flowers found throughout the northern world, and in some mountainous parts of Africa. They are called larkspur because of their unusual spur-like flowers. The front of the flower looks normal, but behind the petals there is a little spur sticking out, making it look like an elf’s cap.
They are a wonderful summer flower to grow for great color, and a staple in English cottage gardens. Because of their height, use as a gorgeous back-border flower. The Delphinium enjoys cooler temperatures (70° ish) and thrives in northern summers and high elevations. They love the sunshine and will grow faster and flower sooner during long summer days.
The Delphinium has become a florist favorite because it is one of the few, large flowers that are actually natural blue. (It’s no surprise that it was traditionally used to make blue ink and dye.) The little larkspurs look beautiful in floral designs because of their tall flower spikes.
Not Everyone’s A Larkspur Fan
As much as we love this beautiful flower, they are hated just as much! The larkspur is very toxic and often grow in the same fields cattle graze from. There are many reported cases of dead cattle caused by ingesting larkspur. Herdsmen do their best to keep cattle away from known Delphinium locations during growing season, but many wild varieties are all but wiped out. So remember, do not eat larkspur!
What’s In A Name?
The name Delphinium comes from the Greek word delphis, meaning dolphin. Why was this flower named after ancient dolphins? That’s easy! The flowers are the same shape as the bottle-nose dolphins! That makes any Delphinium flower arrangement perfect for dolphin lovers.
TYPES OF DELPHINIUM
There are two natural types of Delphiniums. The Belladonna Delphinium are typically smaller, with loose, upright flower pedicels. This is the type more common to see in the wild, but still used by florists as unique filler flowers. The Elatum Delphinium are the larger type with very tall flower spikes and bigger flower heads. You’ve probably seen these in landscaping and flower gardens. There is a third type, the Pacific Hybrid, that are even BIGGER than the Elatum Delphiniums.
Delphinium Belladonna (left) and Delphinium Elatum (right)
We want to hear from you!
Do you grow Delphiniums in your garden? Or have you received a beautiful arrangement filled with these gorgeous flowers? Post a pic in the comments below! We can’t wait to hear from you.
*Note that this is FSN’s favorite flower of the month. The actual flower of January is the carnation.
This post is brought to you by local Mission Hills, CA florists.
No where near Cali? No worries, use Flower Shop Network’s handy directory to find a real florist near you!
A garden blooming with poppies, Delphinium and larkspur in colors of light blue, dark blue, pink, purple and white are show-stoppers in the spring! Poppies and Larkspur are reseeding annuals on the Texas Coast and germination occurs the following fall/winter season with cool temperatures and moist conditions. The spring spikes of color put on their best show when planted during the winter so they can develop a strong root system and a healthy rosette of foliage. The leafy rosettes continue to add leaves and will occasionally throw a small spike flower. This spike flower must be cut back to the rosette, returning the energy for the rosette to grow larger. The larger the rosette, the taller and bigger the flower spike! If you do not remove the wimpy spike flower (produced during warm periods in winter), you will never get the beautiful 24-30” spike flower in the spring. The flowering period lasts for about 4-6 weeks and as the nights start to warm up the plant shifts gears and goes into seed production mode ending the bloom cycle. Most cool weather plants continue to bloom until after Easter.
Poppies are heirloom flowers and always found in the gardening grandmother’s garden. Once you have poppies in your garden, they will continue to reseed and return every year without any help. BUT IF YOU MULCH THE AREA WITH PINE STRAW OR MULCH, THE SEED WILL NOT GERMINATE. (Great way to keep winter weeds suppressed) Poppies can be grown by sowing the seed directly in the soil or by purchasing transplants. Do not place seed where water runoff will wash them out. Work decomposed granite in 2’x2’soil patches where you sow the seeds, as the aggregate keeps the seeds from washing and makes monitoring germination easy. Use a 50:50 soil/gravel ratio and work 6-10” deep into the native soil. Leave this area exposed to sunlight, yes full sun is best or at least 6 hours, and do not cover seed with any mulch.
An old fashion favorite is Bread Poppy; yes this is the seed found in the poppy seed bread we eat. Papaver somniferum is only available from seed and reseeds each year as long as the area is not covered with pine straw or mulch. The steel, blue gray foliage produces flower spikes 18-36” tall producing unique drooping flower buds and upright seed pods. Flowers can be single or double peony form, in colors of magenta, pink or purple and each generation can produce new color morphs and forms.
Iceland Poppy, Papaver nudicale is a native to subpolar regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. Iceland poppy loves the cold! Plants grow well through the winter and start flowering when temperatures rise. Starter plants are usually available during the winter producing single, papery petals of white, yellow, orange, and pink, one cultivar sold is Champagne Bubbles with blooming height of 12-16” inches.
California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, became the official state flower on March 2, 1903. The frilly, fern-like, blue green foliage adds a nice texture to the winter garden and produces cup shaped flowers of red, orange or yellow in spring followed by cone shaped seed pods for next winter’s crop. Blooming height is 6-12” and these poppies benefit from an aggregate soil as described above.
Native to England, Delphinium produces tall spikes of deep blue, light blue, purple or white flowers seen in photos of the English Cottage garden. Southern gardeners coerce Delphiniums in Texas gardens by using transplants in the winter for that beautiful spring bloom. Our inconsistent temperatures (warm to cool and warm again) really confuse Delphinium so on warm days plants “throw” short flower spikes thinking it is spring. Those flower spikes must be cut off to the base of the rosette so the energy is redirected to produce a larger rosette for that really big flower spike in spring! Stop cutting off the little flower spikes at the end of February as the plants will flower in March reaching 24-30”. Once cold temperatures are consistent, the plants will not try to bloom. Cultivars available are usually Pacific Giant Mix and Connecticut Yankee Mix.
Larkspur, Consolida acacis, is a cousin to Delphinium and considered a reseeding annual, never a perennial like Delphinium. Larkspur is best grown by direct sowing seeds to the gravelly, soil area during fall and winter. Sometimes transplants are available so plant them with as little disturbance to the root ball as possible. Larkspur seedlings are more vigorous when direct sown and allowed to grow where they germinate. The rule of cutting off the wimpy blooms during warm winter weeks is needed to produce a much larger and stronger vegetative rosette to flower in the spring. The finely cut fern foliage adds a wonderful texture to the sunny, winter garden. Larkspur bloom in colors of pink, blue, purple, and white and can be single or double flowers. Larkspur is a great everlasting flower to press and dry as the petals retain their color when dried and can be used in card making and 3D art projects!
These plants are available at the Arbor Gate, plant with expanded shale and Arbor Gate Blend fertilizer and grow them this winter.
It’s Not Rocket Science! Defusing Myths About Larkspur’s Challenging Nature
October 25, 2018 1 Comment
Has anyone ever told you that growing larkspur from seed is about as easy as finding botanical life on Mars? Maybe you’ve heard your neighbor swear up and down that the neighborhood nursery sold them a bill of goods and a bad batch of larkspur seedlings. Or maybe, after trying to get them off the ground yourself, you’re certain your garden’s just plain cursed.
Here’s the deal. Haters are gonna hate. Ignorance breeds hate. And blaming evil spirits for a garden that’s failed to launch…well, that’s just gosh-durn silly.
The moon landing wasn’t staged, and you don’t need to raise Stanley Kubrick from the dead to give you a gorgeous patch o’ larkspur in your yard. You just need to know a little bit about this stunning ornamental’s germination needs. Once you have that nailed down, you’re cleared for takeoff. In fact, “rocket” refers to the speed by which they grow and bloom.
Etymology & History of Larkspur
The most common larkspur species cultivated in North America is Consolida ajacis, commonly called “rocket larkspur” or “giant larkspur.” Trailing behind is the similar “forked larkspur” (Consolida regalis). Both are very similar, but we’ll default to C. ajacis as we blast through the basic growing recommendations for this popular garden ornamental.
- Consolida ajacis is often confused with the delphinium plant. In fact, you might see them classified as Delphinium consolida. Nowadays, they have their very own, well-deserved genus.
- Larkspurs are annuals, and delphiniums are perennials. But larkspur plants easily reseed, rejuvenating their “colonies” each season.
- Delphiniums are more difficult to grow from seed, which is why—due to confusion between the plants—larkspurs’ reputation for being tough to grow may be exaggerated.
- Consolida, by the way, is Latin for “consolidate” or “make firm.” Compounds from larkspur were once used as a blood clotting agent and healing salve.
- Larkspur is a member of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family.
- Rockets are pointy tubes of fire that send sports cars into space, or a whole lotta nasty to unsuspecting countries elsewhere on the planet.
Larkspur has easily naturalized throughout the world, and it’s widely believed to hail from Asia, the Middle East, and Mediterranean Europe. According to The University of Arkansas’ agricultural division, “Three species of larkspurs were introduced into English gardens from Italy between 1550 and 1573. They became instant hits and were frequently used in the first wave of pleasure gardens built during this period. They were introduced into American gardens during the pre-Revolutionary era.”
Some botanists believe that larkspur had already naturalized in North America by the mid-16th century, so it’s possible it arrived here long before European settlers…or maybe even before early seafaring explorers. For all we really know for certain, larkspur came to Earth on a meteor. That’s kinda what we think happened with Bells of Ireland, at least.
Also: What’s a “pleasure garden”? I bet you’d need one heck of a privacy fence if you’re going to have one of those.
Larkspur’s Role in Folklore & Herbalism
All parts of the larkspur plant are poisonous if ingested, but ancient Greek soldiers made a tincture from the plant’s crushed seeds to control body lice. Probably those other lice, too. Larkspur poultices once treated wounds and hemorrhoids, and Native North Americans used the flowers as both a dye pigment and an insect repellent.
Since we wrote this post in mid-October, we figured we’d consult with Witchipedia to learn more about larkspur lore. According to them, the Trojan hero Ajax “slew himself after he dishonored himself in a temper when he did not receive the armor of Achilles, and larkspur sprang from his blood.”
Perhaps because of its association with raging testosterone and armor, larkspur was a popular ingredient for spells intended to protect warriors, and Witchipedia hints that these spells are still used in the Craft to help police, fire, and aid workers… and in case these rituals fail miserably, larkspur is also used to honor the dead.
The flowers have horned-shaped “spurs,” much like those of columbines. This upwardly-pointed appendage may be why larkspur was thought to repel scorpions as well as ghosts, evil spirits, and even thieves; folks hung bundles of dried larkspurs around their property for this purpose.
By the way…you’ve probably noticed that we’re working with two different themes here, but anyway you look at it, larkspurs—and their delphinium cousins—are out of this world.
Growing Larkspur in the Garden
When we think of flowers that grow on racemes—tall, slender stalks—we usually think of bell or tube-shaped blooms. Larkspurs look like they’ve had brightly-dyed aster-type blossoms pinned to their stalks.
Flower shapes vary. Some closely resemble dyed daisies, while others, like those on rocket larkspur, look like tiny orchids against five delicate, crepe-thin, color-matched sepals. They can be white, pink, violet, or blue, and some larkspur blooms are double-layered with a fluffy, ruffly appearance.
As we mentioned, rocket larkspur has inch-long pedicels (spurs) behind their 2″ flower heads. The flowers are specialized to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators with a long reach.
Larkspur is an upright, non-mounding annual with feathery, deeply-lobed, palmate foliage. The lacy leaves grow to about 3″ in width and length. The racemes grow up to a foot in height from stalks that may fork into 2 to 4 branches.
This plant is tougher than it looks, being moderately frost-tolerant in warmer climates.
USDA Hardiness Zones: Larkspur is suitable for zones 2 to 10. Grow larkspur in zone 10 in Larkspur, California, or in Larkspur, Colorado (5b). Move to a zone 2 region in Alaska and set up an off-grid camp and name it Larkspur just to make this attempt at cleverness actually work. Please.
Sunlight Preferences: Larkspur prefers full sun, but in the hottest zones it likes a little late afternoons shade.
Watering Requirements: Keep your larkspur beds consistently moist, but not wet.
Soil Preferences: Larkspur does well in the wild in medium-quality, well-drained soil, but it prefers nutrient-rich, compost-amended beds. It has a widely-tolerant pH range (5.7 to 7) with 6.5 being the sweet spot.
Plant Height: 24″ to 48″ tall
Plant Width: 12″ to 18″ spread
Bloom Period: Early June through mid-September in cooler zones; in hotter zones, they generally finish at the peak of summer.
Pests & Diseases: Due to its purported pest-repelling qualities, it’s no surprise that larkspur is resilient to insects. It is susceptible to mildew and the leaf-yellowing Sclerotium rot, so make sure they’re not too wet, and destroy any affected foliage.
Maintenance: Larkspur is a low-maintenance plant. There’s not much you need to do to keep them pretty, though deadheading will tidy them up. If you don’t want them to reseed themselves, remove spent flowers before their seeds develop. Taller racemes (stalks) might need staking in unsheltered areas. Once a week for the first few weeks after your larkspurs emerge, feed them a diluted solution (about 25%) of all-purpose, 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Harvesting: Larkspur is a popular fresh cut flower, and if you invert and suspend their flowery stems in a dry room with good air circulation, you’ll end up with spectacular bundles of dried flowers…with the added bonus of a ghost-free home.
Companion Plants: Plant larkspur among spring bulbs so they’ll help cover up spent foliage. It rarely reaches its maximum height of 4′, so you can plant it in front of leggier plants, or simply grow it in masses. Try mixing it up with cleome, or planting larkspur in front of roses, cosmos, or echinacea!
Growing Larkspur from Seed
Remember… it’s not as difficult as you’ve heard!
Prep your garden site by digging in some 10-10-10 or other balanced fertilizer to give your larkspur some extra kaboom, or add some well-rotted compost to your larkspur beds. We recommend direct-sowing your larkspur seeds since they’re not easily transplanted from nursery pots. If you do decide to start them indoors, be sure to use biodegradable pots made from peat or folded newspaper, or try out some CowPots. (Yeah, you guessed it; they’re made from poop!)
- Seed Treatment: We recommend using the “paper towel” method of cold-stratification for a period of two weeks. While small, larkspur seeds are reasonably easy to handle (with gloves, please) and their wrinkled texture allows them to respond well to cold moisture treatments. However, this same increased surface area can cause seeds to dry out and lose their viability during storage.
- When to Plant Outdoors: Early fall in warmer climates, or immediately after your last frost date in spring. Larkspur germinates best in cool weather, between 55°F and 65°F. Much warmer than that, and you’ll have problems.
- When to Plant Indoors: 8 to 10 weeks before your last frost. Be sure to keep your seedling pots in a cool, sunny spot.
- Seed Depth: 1/4″ deep
- Seed Spacing: Space seeds or thin to 12″ in each direction.
- Days to Germination: 20 to 30 days in optimal weather and temperatures.
Though it may sound like we’re trying to sell you more seeds, we strongly advise double (or triple) seeding each planting location or pot. Larkspur seeds are as slow to launch as are teenagers on a Monday morning, and sudden spring temperature spikes might wipe a few of them out before they emerge.
Let Seed Needs Help You Launch Your Garden
Larkspur is one of those plant seeds you want on hand well in advance of spring. They have a short shelf-life, so you’ll want to be sure to purchase the freshest seeds possible. We often sell out, since we only order from our reputable, sustainable suppliers what we can expect to sell in a single year…and we stand by our products. That’s how we’ve been able to keep our customers happy since our first giant leap into the seed business, and why it’s important to us that you have a successful garden year after year.
Contact us if you’d like to order our rocket larkspur seeds, or if you’d like to request another larkspur variety!
January 25, 2020
Haha! Very informative and entertaining. Thanks for the great post!
Larkspur – Key Growing Information
DAYS TO GERMINATION: 14-21 days at 55°F (13°C). Chill seed for 7 days at 35°F (2°C) to improve germination.
Direct seed (recommended): Sow seeds 1/4″ deep in early spring for summer bloom or in fall for bloom the following year. Darkness is required for germination. Seeds do not germinate well when soil temperatures are above 55°F (13°C). Does best where summers are cool. Larkspur plants require vernalization (a period of cool temperatures) to trigger flower development. Plants should ideally stay above freezing but below 55°F (13°C) for the first six weeks of growth . Without exposure to this cold period, the plants will not flower well. Use of crop supports, for example, horizontal trellis, is recommended. Transplant: Grow at 55°F (13°C) until ready to plant outside. Plants have tap roots and do not transplant readily.
LIGHT PREFERENCE: Sun.
SOIL REQUIREMENTS: Rich, well-drained, slightly alkaline soil.
PLANT SPACING: 4-6″.
HARDINESS ZONES: Annual.
HARVEST: Fresh: When 2-3 basal flowers are open on up to 1/3 of stem.
Dried: When the majority of the flowers on stem are open but before petals drop. Retains color when dried.
USES: Excellent cut or dried flower. Good for back of beds.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Consolida ajacis
Did you know? Larkspur is the flower of the month of July and its meaning denotes Fickleness.
Larkspur (Delphinium consolida) belongs to the buttercup family – Ranunculaceae. Larkspur flowers are almost as complex as the Orchids. The colorful Larkspur blooms cover a spectrum from white to blue to violet. Larkspur Flowers are irregularly shaped and bloom in a loose, vertical grouping along the upper end of the plant’s main stalk. Larkspur is actually a very complex flower consisting of both petals and sepals.
Kingdom Plantae Division Magnoliophyta Class Magnoliopsida Order Ranunculales Family Ranunculaceae Genus Delphinium
Baker’s Larkspur (Delphinium bakeri) and Yellow Larkspur (D. luteum), native to some areas of California, are endangered species. Delphinium is a genus of about 250 species of annual, biennial or perennial flowering plants. The common name, shared with the closely related genus Consolida, is Larkspur.
Larkspur flowers come in a variety of colors including spikes of red, pink, violet and white. As a result of their generally similar floral structure, as well as the absence of genetic barriers to intercrossing, species of Larkspur are known to hybridize in many different combinations.
Facts About Larkspur
- Larkspur, with tall spikes, make excellent Cutflowers. Two varieties of Larkspur are ideal as cut flowers – Consolida ambigua and Consolida orientalis.
- The Larkspur Rose (Consolida ambigua) has tall spires of rose colored flowers. The 1/4 to 1/2 inch rose colored flowers are densely packed on tall stems.
- The market for quality Larkspur is robust from many years. The alluring flower shape, wide range of colors, and the appealing foliage combine to make Larkspur a popular, marketable cut flower.
- Larkspur flowers tend to be fragile and relatively short lived in the vase (under 7 days), making production for local markets more lucrative.
- Larkspur grow to their full potential in climates with cool, moist summers.
- The Larkspur plant is toxic. The stem and seeds contain alkaloids.
- Apparently, domestic sheep are not affected by the toxins in Larkspurs. So, sometimes sheep are used to help eradicate the plant on cattle range.
- Larkspur look identical to perennial Delphiniums.
- Sow Larkspur seeds directly in garden in the spring.
- Sow them in the location you want them to grow as Larkspurs do not like to be transplanted.
- Larkspur plants should be spaced about 6 to 8 inches apart.
- Level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in and firm the soil gently.
- Water the Larkspurs deeply to encourage root development, but be sure the roots do not stand in water or they will be at risk for root rot.
Larkspur plant care
- Larkspurs are best started from seed in spring or fall.
- Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds on Larkspur beds.
- Water Larkspur plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.
- Soil should never dry out for the Larkspurs.
- Stake tall varieties of Larkspur to prevent hollow flower stalks from snapping in the wind, and deadhead after flowering to encourage rebloom.
- After the first killing frost, cut the Larkspur’s stems back to an inch or two above soil line.
- Divide plants every three to four years as new growth begins in the spring, lifting plants and dividing them into clumps.
- Remove spent Larkspur flowers as needed. Trim back to the ground in late fall after foliage dies back.
The Larkspur Flower: Its Meanings & Symbolism
Symbolism of the Larkspur Flower
- Greek Mythology: According to Greek mythology after the death of Achilles, Ajax and Ulysses both tried to claim his arms. When the Greeks awarded them to Ulysses, Ajax went into a fit of anger that culminated in taking his own life with a sword. Ajax’s blood was spewed across the land. The larkspur flower sprang forth where Ajax’s blood fell to earth. The letters A I A – the initials of Ajax – are said to appear on the petals of the flowers as a remembrance of Ajax.
- Native American Legend: According to Native American Legend, the larkspur got its name from an angel or other celestial being that descended from the heavens. This being parted the sky and send down a spike made from pieces of the sky so he could climb down from heaven. The rays of the sun dried the spike and scattered it in the wind. The tiny pieces of sky burst forth into the larkspur flowers wherever they touched the earth.
- Christian Legend: A Christian Legend states that after the crucifixion, Christ was moved to a cave and a boulder was placed in front of the door. While many doubted that he would rise again, a tiny bunny tried to remind them of Christ’s promise. When all ignored him, the bunny waited in the dark until Christ arose. The bunny spoke to Christ and rejoiced that he had kept his promise. Christ knelt down, showed the bunny a tiny blue larkspur flower, and told the bunny to behold the image of the bunny’s face in the flower. The face of the bunny in the larkspur flower symbolizes trusting in Christ and remains a symbol today.
All About the Larkspur Flower
The larkspur is a flower that has a lot of meaning and sentimental value to it. Shakespeare actually calls it the “Lark’s heel” and it is also know as the lark’s claw and the knight’s spur. The important thing to remember with this flower is that it is poisonous, and if you ingest enough of it, you will potentially die. This is rather fitting when you actually dig a little bit deeper and find the floral meaning of the larkspur to be fickleness. So, use this flower if you are looking to make a bouquet for a terrible roommate or a friend that just isn’t there for you.
The larkspur is part of the genus of Delphinium. This is a genus that has about 300 speicies in it that are all flowering plants. The larkspur plant is primarily more native to the Northern hemisphere and can handle some colder temperatures and shorter periods of sunshine. With the larkspur, the flower actually grows fairly tall and can get as tall as about 6 feet. This is a plant that has a lot of very pointed lobed leaves that are very distinct to it. On top of the flower it has a five petal bloom like most plants. These flowers will come in colors which are most usually purple, but can also be blue, red, white, or yellow. These are beautiful flower, but they can pack a pretty big punch so you have to be very careful with them.
Uses for the Larkspur Flower
These are flowers that are used for many different things. You will find larkspur in floral arrangements although they are not the most common flower to be used in them. You will also find that these are used mainly as garden plants. But, what you have to beware of if you are going to plant the larkspur is the dangers of it. The larkspur is poisonous and it can cause many issues if it is ingested. So, if you have this beautiful flower, be sure that you are watching it closely and that you are keeping kids and pets that may get into flowers and eat them away from it so that they are not harmed. This is a great flower with lots of great options for its uses.
Why do people plant the Larkspur Flower ?
The great thing about the larkspur is that it really will take off in climates where there is a short growing season. So, if you live in an area where you only get so much sunlight during a particular season, this is the flower for you. It will bloom from late spring to late summer when it is able to get enough sunlight to grow to that level. But, as with any other plant, you will also need to understand the watering needs of the larkspur, the drainage that it needs, the soil conditions that work best for it, and that sort of thing. All of this information will help you grow great looking flowers. =”color:>