larkspur vs delphinium? difference

steelskies(5)June 9, 2011

what is the difference. I think larkspur has more fernlike leaves than the delphinium. In zone 4, is one more hardy than the other. I love the deep royal blue colors. Many of my delphiniums don't come back. Maybe the larkspur with the fern leaves is more hardy. they seem to have a gorgeous color to them. Anyone?

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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Larkspur are generally annuals, delphiniums are perennials even though they are finicky and don't come back for all.

Larkspur do have finer leaves and smaller flower spikes that are thinner around.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:09PM
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ramazz(8a VA)

I have found that larkspur reseeds very well for me, and I also collect seed and scatter it around. I had no luck with delphiniums coming back, so I definitely prefer the larkspur.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:54PM
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mytime(3/4 Alaska)

I thought true larkspur (Consolida) was an annual.
Which delphiniums are you trying that don't come back? I have a row of Pacific Giants. There is something about one spot where the plant frequently doesn't come back...I've yet to determine what it is.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:13PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i found over the years.. that perennial delphs are very borderline z5 .... i never figured out if it was temps .. or root rot in damp winter soil ... or mid-winter thaws ... or what not....

larkspur is an annual in z5 ... which reseeds freely.. but not overwhelmingly ... and frankly the only version i will grow.. like you say.. that intense blue flower is something else ...

buy it once.. have it forever ...

delphs just got too expensive to replace year in and year out ...

I THINK .. the key to perennial delphs would be soil structure and drainage .... as well as micro climate.. but that is a WAG ...


    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:56PM
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I just had a thought. Maybe I could dig up the delphinium and store it in my garage, then replant in spring? Like I do some others. Has anyone tried this?

I have put a rather thick mulch on the delphs in fall to protect them from my Zone 4 temps. It didn't seem to matter.

Had to look up what WAG meant! My husband says the correct phrase is SWAG!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 6:37PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


stolen w/o a gun???

Southern Women Aging Gracefully

Still Wondering and Guessing

and a lot of other insulting ones ...


though i prefer this one

Strong Wise Accomplished Gentlemen

just plant the larkspur.. and save your money on expensive foo foo delphs ...

on the other hand.. if money is no object.. and you like to fool around pushing the boundaries of zone ... knock yourself out ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 7:49PM
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I would not mulch delphs, they are sensitive to crown rot. I read in an old garden book from the 50's to put a bit of sand on the crowns during growing season, so that the water drains from the crown. It works well for me. My delphs can take a lot of cold, what kills them is poor drainage. They do like moisture during the growing season as long as it is well drained. Larkspur are easier, they do reseed quite well, so once planted you don't have to replant, they are easier than delphs but just as pretty in their own way, I think. Hope this helps........

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 9:17PM
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what about delphinium in zone 7? I bought 3 last year, this year two came back and are looking beautiful right now. The local Lowe's also had a sale on them a few weeks ago--$19 pots for $4.75. I bought 3. They are doing ok though I'm watering them every day due to the intense heat and sun we are having here.

I will try the sand around the crown thing, but should I expect to have to replace them each year in my zone? Thanks

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 3:06AM
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mytime(3/4 Alaska)

Ken, why did you mention pushing the boundaries of zone? Most delphs are hardy to zone 3, and some even to 2. Most of my delphs are 20 years old, and have survived all types of weather...high and low temp., dry, and wet. I never water them--the only care they get is weeding 2x/year...I don't even have to fertilize.
Several delphinium varieties don't like a lot of humidity, so those of you in a humid climate might just need to try a different cultivar. Also, some are less tolerant of extremely hot temperatures.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 3:13AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Yes, Delphiniums are cold climate plants. It's the heat they can't handle.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 6:04AM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

I grow the low growing perennial delphinium, Delphinium grandiflorum. Doesn't need staking and is less fussy about growing conditions. I just add some sand to the planting hole.

here's a picture from 2009, cutivar is Blue Butterflies:

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 9:19AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

perhaps.. in relying on a common name.. we are not growing the same delphiniums ....

i would love to see a pic of a z3 delph .... and know its full latin name ...

regardless.. i suggested its is probably not a zone issue.. as much as a soil issue.. supported by hpny who suggests crown rot ... which for me means damp soil in late fall going into ground freeze.. causing the crown to rot at soil thaw in spring .... and also complicated by freeze/thaw in mid winter when there is not sufficient snow cover ....

20 year old delphs simply amazes me ... congrats ...


    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 9:20AM
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mytime(3/4 Alaska)

I haven't taken a picture of them since the digital age, maybe I'll remember in July and post a picture.

But, I'm 5'5", and they're taller than me. They're D. elatum.

And I should have said that most readily available, in the trade, delphiniums are hardy to z3.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 1:54PM
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njmomma(z6 NJ)

I love delphs but they never return for me. In the past I've gotten the very tall ones that need staking. They are so gorgeous! BUT, I'm not rich so I gave them up. I can't spend that much on what should really be considered an annual.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 4:27PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I grow several varieties from seed. Delphiniums are short lived for me. I have one King Arthur which is five years old but most survive 1-3 years. They are easily grown from seed by winter sowing and some will bloom the same year.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 9:02PM
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I've had 2 of 3 Delphiniums for 5 years. They were grown from seed from a local friend and she thinks they were Magic Fountains, which are a dwarf variety. I say 2 of 3 because this year is the first year that all three did not come back, just 2 of the original 3.

My soil is clay that has been amended to some extent. When we planted them, we also added new soil and amendments to the hole. I think these plants are amazing because I've never had delphs live this long before. Ususally, in our area, they seem to last about 3 years tops, and then they just don't come back.

The gardening friend who gave me these plants says that she thinks that growing them from seed makes them hardier and more likely to return. I love them and I'm happy to see them return every spring. Mine are blooming right now.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 9:05PM
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In my experience, delphiniums only start when I seed them in late winter in the dark - Never had them seed on their own like larkspur does, which I'm sticking to from now on - so much easier. The delphs that come back the best are the ones that are in the driest area (Soil and sunlight is the same for the different groups) - These actually bloom twice during the summer while the others struggle.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:49PM
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I think they are short lived and do not like more southern gardens. They like cooler summers and lower humidity. Or move to England.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 7:44AM
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daisyincrete Z10? 905feet/275 metres

I grew them in England. I found the New Zealand varieties were very dependable.
Slugs and snails like them, especially very early in the season when they are only just emerging. They can kill them completely then.
I can't grow them here in Crete, it is too warm.
I grow the annual Consolida regalis instead. It flowers all summer and reseeds.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 8:52AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Since being introduced to D.tricorne, I feel a delph revival coming on. Have ordered seeds of D.trollifolium and have the frankly bizarre D.requienii growing alongside the usuals. I must also put in a mention for the bone hardy (Z4) yellow D.zalli or semibarbatum.

This post was edited by campanula on Tue, May 13, 14 at 12:17

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:13PM
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Campanula UK Z8

dbl post

This post was edited by campanula on Tue, May 13, 14 at 12:16

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:14PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

It's always cracked me up to see US catalogs marketing "bred in NZ" delphiniums as "heat resistant". No commonly inhabited part of New Zealand has summers with an average high temperature over 80F. In other words, you'd have to go to the Atlantic coast around Cape Cod or north of Boston to find a part of the Continental-climate US with summers as cool as the very hottest parts of NZ. Maybe upper Michigan too. (of course I discount the obviously cool-summer Pacific coast...national catalog merchants obviously see them as a blip that marches to beat of its own drummer)

That being said I bought some supposedly heat-resistant variety at Groff's Plant Farm in Lancaster Co. back in 2012, and it has been perennial since then, in spite of the hellish summers of 2012 and 2013. Blooms and everything! Hasn't really increased in size though, which I think is telling. I'm sure it doesn't like it here.

EDIT: Actually I just double checked my spreadsheet: I have an odd note that I tried "'Stainless Steel' or 'Moonlight Blues'?" in 2011, and it died that summer. Maybe I couldn't remember the cultivar name? Early 2011 was worse for me than 2012. Then I bought something else in 2012 which has survived until now and bloomed both years but alas I lost the tags from that year so I don't know which one. 2013 was actually not a bad summer other than being too wet for some things. The summers of 2010, 2011, 2012 were the really bad ones.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Fri, May 16, 14 at 11:09

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:47AM
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