Year of the Delphinium

The National Garden Bureau has declared 2016 the Year of the Delphinium. I absolutely adore these rich, blue, bell-shaped blooms and am thrilled that it has been chosen as the flower of 2016.

delphinium belladonna larkspur
Delphinium is the birth flower of July

growing delphinium belladonna
Delphinium, also known as larkspur, are stately spikes of eye-catching blossoms in astounding shades of blue.  Because they are one of the few flowers that are naturally blue (in addition to iris and hydrangea) they are especially unique and eye-catching.  The name is derived from the Greek word delphis (meaning dolphin) for its resemblance to the bottle nose of a dolphin.
Delphinium is native throughout the Northern Hemisphere; historically, it was used by Native Americans and European settlers to make blue dye, and across the pond it was the primary source for ink--seems like even the earliest humans couldn't resist delphinium's true-blue color.

Growing Practices for Delphinium

We grow delphinium at our farm in Oxnard -- the Southern California weather supplies us with the perfect warm-weather conditions so that we are able to grow these gorgeous, tall beauties year-round.

The two varieties we grow are Belladonna and Sea Waltz, both offered in shades of dark blue and light turquoise.  The difference between Belladonna and Sea Waltz are minor, but they do play a part in our growing practices.

difference between delphinium varieties

Belladonna is known for its hardy nature.  We grow it outside in the field year-round, because it can handle all kinds of weather conditions -- sun, fog, rain, heat -- bring it on.

While Sea Waltz has thicker, stronger stems than Belladonna, it's more sensitive during the growing period.  It requires shelter and a little bit of babying, which is why we grow it in hoops under protective plastic half the year, and then, during summer, we take off the plastic and let the warm, Southern California weather do the work for us.

delphinium belladonna and delphinium sea waltz
Light Blue Sea Waltz in Hoops || Light Blue Belladonna in the Field

Delphinium can be susceptible to spider mites, which can cause severe damage to plants by piercing their leaf surface and extracting leaf cells and fluid.  To prevent their presence, we treat our delphinium crops with beneficial insects, known as Amblyseius californicus.  Californicus are effective against several types of spider mites, more resistant than chemical pesticides, and better for the plant and the environment overall.

freshly picked delphinium
Freshly picked Delphinium

Delphinium plants can grow to be 4-5 feet tall, and we harvest when the flower stems are at least 36 inches long.  This maintains the dramatic, tall beauty of the flower which adds a wonderful bold, vertical element in cut flower arrangements.  Their florets open progressively along the stem, creating an ever-evolving show for you to enjoy.

long delphinium sea waltz

Delphinium Design

Delphinium is a very versatile flower.  It looks great in wildflower, au natural arrangements; its framework blends well with pastoral design and its blue hues highlight focal yellows and muted whites beautifully.

delphinium arrangements

 Its long stems also work well in elegant, polished arrangements.  There is a showy vitality to delphinium, and it brings graceful luxury and an exquisite boldness to centerpieces.

delphinium flower design

And, of course, these tall beauties look absolutely stunning gathered together in monochromatic bunches.

monochromatic delphinium flower arrangements

Add true blue novelty and vibrant celebration to your life with Delphinium, the 2016 Flower of the Year.

Lady Aster all about delphinium