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Nothing quite beats the drama of delphiniums. In June and July, they produce towering flower spikes that can reach over 2m tall. They are probably best known for their vivid sapphire blue shades, but they also come in mauve, pink, white and even red. The flowers can be single or double, depending on the variety.Delphiniums are in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and have been grown in the UK for centuries. The word delphinium comes from the Greek delphinos, meaning dolphin, probably because of the shape of the opening flowers. Their common name, larkspur, dates back to Tudor times.
Most delphiniums are hardy perennials, but annual and biennial varieties are also available. The Elatum Group of delphiniums are the most commonly grown and are the tallest type, with spikes of single or double flowers reaching up to 2m. Belladonna delphiniums are shorter, with a looser, more branching habit and single flowers. ‘Pacific Hybrids’ were developed in the 1950s and 1960s, and are short-lived perennials or biennials. They look similar to ‘Elatum’ delphiniums but are shorter. The ‘Magic Fountain’ series of delphiniums are short and more compact, suitable for smaller gardens.Delphiniums are sought after and planted for their blue flowers, which are rare to find in other plants. These beautiful blues can come in a variety of shades and forms. Many feature a white center, which adds a bright contrast to the deep, rich blue. Most delphiniums are in the blue and purple range, but they can also be found in pinks and reds. There are some stunning coral-colored varieties, and even some rare ones in yellow. These plants have attractive foliage in a pleasing green, with palm-shaped leaves like a fern.
Ideally, delphiniums should be planted in full sun for the best blooms and sturdiest stems. In too much shade, especially in humid climates, fungus issues can arise on the foliage. Powdery mildew, botrytis, and leaf spot are all common problems that delphiniums struggle with. The best fungal control method is prevention, so make sure plants are in well-ventilated areas and full sun to keep foliage dry. If your plant needs any supplemental watering, make sure to do it at the base of the plant so the leaves stay dry.After flowering, it is best to dead head the flower spike, and further smaller flower shoots should appear. Bees are attracted to Delphiniums drawn in part by their lovely strong blue, as bees do love blue flowers. Delphiniums are a red wheelbarrow plant as they need attention in terms of slug protection, staking and, if time allows, feeding, as detailed below. If Delphiniums are not your first choice to plant, check out summer flowering plants, scented plants, and climbing plants for more ideas on what to plant in the garden. (Source: www.sundaygardener.co.uk)