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Delphinium elatum
Delphinium elatum

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How to choose and grow delphiniums



Most people associate delphiniums with blue flowers, but colors also include white and shades of red, pink, lavender, and purple. Leaves are lobed or fanlike, variously cut and divided. Taller hybrids offer rich colors in elegant spires. All kinds are effective in borders and make good cut flowers; lower-growing kinds serve well as container plants.

Blossoms attract birds.

How to choose and grow delphiniums

All kinds of delphiniums are easy to grow from seed.

In mild-winter areas, sow fresh seed in flats or pots of light soil mix in summer; set out transplants in early fall for bloom in late spring and early summer. (In mild-winter climates, most perennial forms are short-lived, often treated as annuals.)

In cold climates, refrigerate summer-harvested seed in airtight containers until time to sow. Sow seed in spring and set out transplants in early summer for first bloom by late summer; plants will live over and bloom again earlier in the following summer.

Delphiniums need rich, porous soil and regular fertilizing. Improve poor or heavy soils by blending in soil conditioners. Add lime to strongly acid soils. Work a small amount of superphosphate into soil around the root ball. Be careful not to cover the root crown with soil. Protect from snails, slugs.

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