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The Magic of Delphinium Elatum
In Greek mythology, the name “Delphinium” was supposedly named after the Delphi temple. This was because Apollo, the god of the sun, was said to have fallen in love with the flowers. Ironically, the Delphinium Elatum flowers are known to wither and fade without at least eight hours of sunlight.
Delphinium Elatum is a special flower for a number of reasons. Its height is as stunning as its color's richness and its reputation is somewhat paradoxical. It is known for its medicinal purposes but is poisonous if eaten directly from the plant. It cannot survive without the sun, yet it requires damp moisture.
These plants are often seen along with courtyards or in meadows and can be found in multiple countries. They are as versatile as they are mysterious.
How Hard Is It To Grow Delphinium Elatum?
Like most plants, Delphinium Elatum is easier to grow if the specifics are known upfront. Delphinium Elatum are especially hungry flowers that need to be fed at regular intervals. Although they may need more food than other plants, they are not particularly sensitive. Delphinium Elatum perennials are hardy plants that can reach up to five or six feet.
Depending on where you live, the soil may be a factor. Areas that are dry or have cracked soil are not ideal for this type of plant. States like New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Texas can be difficult for this reason. The Pacific Northwest is recommended for its cool and wet springs.
The Consequences of Poor Planting
In one word: rot. Rot is one of the most problematic issues when trying to grow Delphiniums in the spring. Unfortunately, since this is the best time to plant them, waiting for a dryer climate won’t work.
To spot rot from the very beginning, check the base of the plant. Since the stems are prone to cracking, bacteria can find easy access. The early signs of rot include yellow leaves and a sour odor. Eventually, rot leads to drooping and wilting flowers.
Another common problem relates to the bloom itself. There’s nothing more frustrating than planting a potentially six-foot-tall flower with no blossoms. While most of these plants will flower without any issues, Delphiniums that have too much nitrogen will not.
Nitrogen fertilizer may enrich the soil, but it has a different impact depending on where you live. An overabundance of nitrogen may even infiltrate the surface water causing an imbalance in nutrients. This can potentially prevent flowers from blooming and may kill the Delphinium.
Are Delphinium Plants Toxic if They Are Grown Correctly?
One report from The National Library of Medicine, details medicinal ingredients that can be used for headaches, toothaches, and insomnia. Unfortunately, consuming Delphinium plants are dangerous, regardless of how they are grown.
The properties of Delphinium are frequently used in medication. While Delphinium extract is used in Parkinson’s disease treatment and can be found in Eastern medicine, the flowers are not ingestible. This is not due to the type of fertilizer used or sunlight, it is simply the plant itself.
The Benefits of Delphinium Plants
Delphinium plants are perfect for all types of flower arrangements including household decor and formal bouquets. They provide air purification and can even be used to make blue ink. Most gardeners use these tall flowers for lawn borders, walls, and natural gates.
Although they were once used to deter witches from entering farms and stables, Delphiniums are now seen as welcoming flowers. They blossom into a beautiful blue or purple accent piece if planted in the spring.
How To Grow Delphinium Plants
The first trick to growing healthy Delphinium Elatum involves timing. These flowers bloom best when planted in the spring. Ordering seeds ahead of time will help prepare for summer gardens. I order seeds approximately one month before I start gardening.
Ordering seeds is not difficult to do considering a variety of websites exist specifically for Delphinium Elatum. Once the seeds arrive, the actual care begins.
Seeds should be stored in a cool climate like the refrigerator. To avoid any damage, sealing them in a jar is recommended. Since even seeds are aware of moisture and temperature, this will make a difference when planting as well.
Unlike planting already-grown Delphinium, seeds should be planted in an individual pot. They may require a specific sowing mix to help with damp moisture. After the seeds are covered, they can be placed in an area with plenty of light. Planting is best when the temperature is between 75 and 80 degrees.
There are some plants that can grow virtually anywhere. Delphiniums are not one of them. Hot and dry air will cause the flower to wilt, but too much rain creates rot. Fortunately, while Delphinium flowers are picky, they are not necessarily sensitive.
The best climate is one that’s moist. Full sun is preferred to prevent bacteria from getting into the stems. Slugs can be a problem in the spring, so staking is important as soon as possible.
If you are building a brand new garden, consider the shade. Shady spots typically occur in the center of a garden where tall plants and bushes cast shadows. The edges of a garden are best for optimal sunlight.
Six to eight hours of sunlight per day is recommended regardless of their state or country. Most commonly in the United States, they are found in prairies and the sagebrush steppe. Unlike Delphinium Occidentale, Delphinium Elatum does not typically thrive in forests due to the lack of sun.
Technically Delphinium Elatum can be planted in the autumn depending on the location. This is because the soil is still warm enough for its roots. Planting them during the summer is discouraged because although the soil is warm, the plant may struggle to stay upright. If planted in the spring, the plant will have additional sunlight after settling into its new home.
Just How Hungry Are They?
Very hungry. All Delphiniums, but especially Delphinium Elatum, need regular feedings to keep healthy and hardy. Liquid fertilizer should be applied once every two to three weeks depending on the climate.
Skimping on the quality of fertilizer will not go unnoticed. Delphinium Elatum prefers rich, organic soil. All-purpose slow-release granular food is best distributed in the spring. This will help improve the drainage system.
Over-watering can increase the risk of rot. To check the soil's moisture level, stick your finger approximately one inch below the dirt. If it is still moist, wait two days to water. Adding compost to the soil will create rich and vibrant flowers in the summer.
DIY Maintenance Work
Since Delphinium Elatum can grow to over six feet tall, garden stakes are necessary. This will help them stand on their own and avoid wind damage. Grow-through supports and cages often work the best.
Once the first frost has occurred it’s important to cut the stems. After a few years, the plants can be divided so that there’s ample space for them to grow. If there are too many Delphinium Elatum in one place, they will begin to wilt and wither. Spacing each plant apart will help with new growth in addition to existing blossoms.
Cyclamen mites and slugs are especially problematic for these flowers. To prevent pests from invading the flowers, well-draining soil will help. Without proper soil, bacterial or fungal spots may appear on the crown.
Homemade Garden Stakes
There are DIY methods to construct garden stakes for Delphinium Elatum. One of these techniques involves using thin bamboo reeds that can be harvested yourself.
To create one of these garden stakes, first, pick a firm variety of bamboo-like Oldhammi. Make sure the reed is at least 2 inches in diameter. This will help support the plants even if it’s windy.
Once you have found the right bamboo poles, take half of them and space each one eight inches apart. After they are firmly stuck into the soil, take the other half and carefully weave them through the stakes. It should look like a checkerboard or a waffle pattern.
Planting Delphinium Elatum underneath the poles will help when it comes to securing them to the bamboo. This is a natural way to support the plants while never leaving your garden.
Every plant has its own set of instructions. While Delphinium Elatum may have specific needs, they are not difficult to provide. Simply knowing the basics is enough to create beautiful flowers in the summertime.