One of the very few large cut flowers that is blue – a very rare combination. Delphiniums are larger and more showy than larkspurs, and have longer stems. Delphiniums come in blue, white and purple, but there are now new varieties, called F2, which are pink, salmon and yellow in colour. Larkspurs are more commonly found in shades of pink. Both have large flower spikes with a number of flowers opening from the bottom up.
Delphiniums have poisonous sap, so take care when handling and wear gloves.
Delphinium are grown inside glasshouses; larkspur can be grown in the field in spring and summer. In Australia they are grown close to the capital cities, particularly in Victoria (Dandenong Ranges and Mornington Peninsula) due to its relatively cool climate with low humidity.
Types: Delphinium, Larkspur.
What to look for
- About 1/3 of the lower flowers should be open.
- Strong stems that support the many flowers.
- Avoid spikes with flowers that drop off – this is a sign of ethylene damage.
- Keep cool! Never place in full sun.
- Unpack and get into water as soon as possible as these flowers dry out quickly.
- Strip leaves from the bottom half of each stem.
- Recut at least 2 cm off each stem and place in cold water.
- Use a preservative as this will keep flowers looking fresh.
- Replace vase water with fresh preservative every day.
- Both delphinium and larkspur are very sensitive to ethylene. Keep them away from fruit, car exhausts and cigarette smoke.
Interesting Facts about this Flower
The name Delphinium comes from the Greek and refers to the buds, which are ‘dolphin-shaped’.
All parts of the plant contain an alkaloid called delphinidin which is very toxic and causes vomiting when eaten, and even death. In small amounts, extracts of the plant have been used in herbal medicine, but this is not advised. Grieve’s herbal reports that the seeds can be used against parasites, especially lice and nits. A tincture was used against asthma and dropsy. The juice of the flowers, mixed with alum was used as a blue ink.
In the Language of Flowers, delphinium means ‘fun’, while larkspur means ‘an open heart’, or ‘lightness’.
Botanical Name: Delphinium: Delphinium grandiflorumLarkspur: Consolida ambigua and C. orientalis
Common Names: Delphinium, Larkspur
Stem Length: 30 to 100 cm (Delphinium only)
Country of Origin: Europe, USA
Available Colours: Blue, Orange, Pink, Purple, White, Yellow