Flower of the Month – December – Delphinium

Scientific Name: Delphinium

Common Name: Larkspur, Delphinium

From ocean blue to crisp white, the dainty delphinium, also known as Larkspur in the Northern hemisphere, is on everyone’s radar right now. Flowering late Spring to late Summer, the lean and billowing stems studded with buds and blooms conjures up images of traditional English gardens, high teas and decadent centrepieces strewn with Chinoiserie tea sets. Recently, delphiniums have played a central part in the fashion world with 400,000 stems used to construct a floral pyramid for Dior SS/16 shows at Paris Fashion Week. Former Creative Director for Dior Raf Symons vision was behind the amazing creation outside the Louvre Museum.

The RHS Chelsea Flower and Garden Show also put delphiniums on the map, using a model to promote the show. Created by florist Larry Walshe, the 1930s-inspired dress for this promotion pictured below (via cityam.com), features over 1,200 delphiniums, hyacinths and spray roses, and took over 200 hours to create.chelsea-flower-show-model-london-5551a0a646263

Hailing from the Rananculaceae family, Delphiniums are native to the North Hemisphere, and the mountainous African tropics. The name ‘delphinium’ is from the word meaning ‘dolphin’ in Latin, which originally came from the Greek , named due to the plant’s bud and spur that resembles the shape of a dolphin.

Over 400 species of Delphinium flowers are grown and they are available in single or double varieties with medium green and leafy foliage. The plants can grow up to up to 7 feet!

Delphiniums made their appearance in Greek legend, as well as in Native American practical uses. Most famous, for this flowering plant, is its role in the Battle of Troy–where it has a small connection to Achilles and Ulysses, but is said to be the direct result of the death of Ajax. Dejected because he had not been chosen as the most heroic Greek warrior, he killed himself–and where his blood seeped into the ground, blue larkspur (Delphinium) were said to grow.

On a happier note – various Native Americans tribes located on the West Coast crushed the blue delphinium and used it as a dye. Europeans discovered them a little later and crushed blue delphinium to produce ink. It was also touted as a cure for lice and used for other external problems.

Most commonly grown in Australian commercially are The Pacific Hybrids, which grow to a tall height of 1.5 metres or more with star-like single, semi-double or double flowers of pink, blue, lilac and white clustered on erect rigid spikes and the smaller but intensely coloured Butterfly Series which are tuftier and shorter stemmed. Read all about our local grower J & E Flowers here who specialise in Delphinium almost all year round! Lucky us!

Vase Life:

  • Select bunches when top section of stake is still in bud
  • Ensure vase is crystal clean and fill half way with fresh, cool water
  • Remove all stems below water line
  • Cut stems at a 45 degree angle to allow for water uptake
  • Recondition every 2-3 days by recutting stems, changing water and adding sugar
  • Keep away from fruit and vegetables that produce ethylene gas which will allow flowers to deteriorate
  • Keep flowers in cool area away from sunlight

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