HOW TO GROW DELPHINIUMS FROM SEED


If you live in a northern European climate than Delphiniums are arguably one of the most impressive of all the ornamental, herbaceous flowering plants that are available for a cottage effect garden. They are largely represented in gardens by the annual larkspurs (Delphinium consolida cultivars) and the various hybrids of Delphinium elatum. They prefer a deep, rich soil in a sunny, sheltered position.

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Most Delphinium species are usually propagated from seed from late winter to early summer, although all of the perennial species can be directly sown outside in their final position in April, March or September.

Delphinium seeds are best planted fresh and if you have collected your own but are not yet ready to sow them then keep them refrigerated until they are required.

Using modular seed trays, fill with a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Sow the seed 3 mm deep and then gently water using a soft rose. Allow the excess water to drain off and then place inside an unheated propagator or seal inside a clear polythene bag. Move the tray to a cool room in the house and keep on a bright windowsill but out of direct sunlight. The temperature only needs to be around 10-13 degrees Celsius, so in late spring or early autumn you could always keep the tray in an unheated greenhouse.

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You can expect germination to take between 1-3 months and once the first seedlings emerge you can remove the tray from the propagator or out of the bag. Water as necessary but do not allow the compost to become waterlogged.

Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, pop the modules out of the tray. Disturbing the roots system as little as possible, transplant them into 9cm  pots using a good quality multi-purpose compost or John Innes 'No 2 or 3'. So long as there are no frosts likely, harden your young delphinium plants outside in a cold frame for a week or so before planting out into their final position.

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