Delphinium exaltatum (tall larkspur)

2 months ago

Saw these in a display garden at a local nursery and they knocked my socks off -- gorgeous rich blue color, lovely foliage, and height range I'm looking for. I'm debating either going back and purchasing or growing from seed so would like to hear your experience with them -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- along with optimal growing conditions. Are they fast from seed? I've tried to grow delphinium grandiflorum cultivar in the past with no luck and so am a bit gun-shy, but seeing as though this one is a Midwestern native, hopefully they won't give me grief.

Comments (3)

  • sah67 (zone 5b - NY)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I originally bought several D. exaltatum from a local native plant nursery back in 2016, and had them in a full sun border in relatively decent and well-draining soil. They did just fine and bloomed nicely each year, although the blooms certainly don't have the wow factor (neither in size or color) of the cultivated delphinium hybrids, and you really have to mass a few together to get much of an effect.

    I read last year that in the wild, they're more of an open woodland/woodland edge plant, and can take quite a bit of shade, and since they were also outgrowing their original spot, I transplanted them all this past April to the edge of my "woodland bed" in richer, more moisture retentive soil, whey they get sun from about 9am-1pm, and then they're shaded by a large pin oak for the remainder of the day. They've flourished just as well in this spot, and transplanted beautifully, showing no signs of transplant shock and blooming just as nicely this summer.

    One big plus for me is that the ruby-throated hummingbirds (and hummingbird clearwing moths) are big fans of this species, and have been nectar-ing on the blooms nonstop for the last week or two.

    Overall, they've been super low-maintenance for me, surviving just on rainfall since I originally planted them, and making it through several periods of drought with no problem. I've never seen them bothered by disease, slugs or rabbits, which often plague my much fussier cultivated Delphiniums. They're certainly not a "showy" plant, but they're definitely pretty in their own right, and bring in some interesting pollinators, so I'm happy to have them.

  • dbarron
    2 months ago

    They typically even do well as far south as I am (unlike the hybrids that can't go through a summer). I'm a fan.

  • mxk3
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    They sound like they'll work well in the bed I'm re-doing. I'm going back to the nursery tomorrow, will see if they still have any in stock; if not, I can order next spring.