A part of the Buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family, larkspur is the common name for a bunch of flowering perennials in the genus Delphinium. Their blossoms are in a variety of colours, including blue, lavender, red and white. Larkspur features lobed leaves, silvery green and tall, flower-covered spikes. Depending upon the number, larkspur ranges to plants in elevation from dwarf plants. Larkspur is a tender, herbaceous perennial and often has to be replanted every two to three years.
Larkspur prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Dry, sandy soil ought to be amended with organic material, for larkspur, such as manure. With a layer of mulch retains soil cooler than it might be without mulch and helps to retain moisture. Depending on the species, larkspur can grow nicely in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones two to 10, although most varieties grow best in regions with cool, moist summers and relatively mild winters.
Larkspur plants grown from seed, and can be purchased from garden centers, especially those specializing in native plants. In late spring, seedlings typically are set out for mid-summer blooms. In late fall for early spring blooms, seedlings may be planted in regions with mild winters. Seeds gathered in summer ought to be stored in a cool, dry place until planting time. Application of an fertilizer during the growing period is recommended for blooms. Remove spent blooms to promote blossoms. Larkspur stalks are hollow and easily damaged by wind and rain. Staking taller crops and planting larkspur at a sheltered area helps to guard against breakage. Larkspur will attract slugs and snails. Young plants and seedlings are particularly vulnerable and may be protected with snail bait
The tall, colorful spires of larkspur are used for cut flowers and continue about one week. The flower stalks could be hung upside down and air dried for use. Shorter larkspur varieties are used in patio containers, rock gardens and borders.
Larkspur develops in many colours and sizes, although not all species are easily obtainable. Noted for its brilliant red blossoms, scarlet larkspur (Delphinium cardinale) is indigenous to the coastal mountain region of California. Scarlet larkspur grows approximately 2 to 6 feet tall and approximately 2 feet wide. Additionally called scarlet or red larkspur, Delphinium nudicaule is native to Northern California and Oregon and develops about two feet tall. The two types of larkspur so are more attractive to hummingbirds and grow in USDA zones 7 to 10. Pacific volcano or giant larkspur (D. elatum) is a cold-hardy number that grows up to 8 feet tall. Its blossoms can be blue, lavender, purple or pink, and it develops in USDA zones 2 to 9. Chinese larkspur (D. grandiflorum) is a dwarf, bushy variety that grows approximately 1 foot tall. Chinese larkspur has vivid blossoms and grows in USDA zones 2 to 9.
The larkspur plant includes alkaloids that affect the neuromuscular system. The toxins are concentrated in its own seeds and growth. Larkspur is poisonous to horses, cows, humans, dogs and cats. Symptoms of poisoning include weakness, nervousness, convulsions, tremors and cardiac arrest.