My Friday night TV watching last night was a lot better than normal. - Scented plants on The Great British Garden Revival, and then and hour of innuendo on the Allotment Challenge. (watch again by clicking on the links if you missed them) The featured flower for the Allotment was Larkspur, - and i'd been planting some out earlier yesterday on the field, - so here's my tips for getting excellent Larkspur, which is an Annual version of Delphiniums, this summer.
(photo credit Emma Davies)
By January, these plants are now lovely big seedlings, and are now better equipped to survive outside, - (these are hardy annuals after all) So last year, and this, - i've picked a mild January day - (Yes i'm lucky here in Surrey, they do exist, i'd probably wait until February if they didn't ) and planted them out, 3 across in my metre wide beds. Again because they don't like root disturbance, you need to wait until the roots have filled the module and then you can pop them out and they'll grow on nicely.
These plants will grow on, and be flowering at the end of June, and into July, - like these ones last year, which were perfect timing for using at the Hampton Court Flower show.
Then, because I want succession and Larkspur for as much of the summer as possible, - i'll put some seeds in the freezer at the beginning of February, and a week later, i'll sow them in module trays - just a couple of seeds to each module.
last year's records say I sowed them on
15th February - grew quickly and were planted in the polytunnel, - flowered at the same time as the outside unprotected Autumn sown ones
9th March - my notes say moudly seeds!, so i'm guessing they didn't do well, - Don't use old seeds!
18th March - these had been vernalised (put in the freezer) and germinated well, - unfortunately I only did one small tray of them, - but they were flowering 2 weeks after the Autumn sown ones.
19th April - Direct sown into the ground. - by now the soil was warming up, and they germinated very quickly, - lots of them (I obviously hadn't sown them as thinly as I thought) - I thinned them out, - they grew to lovely seedlings, - and then the Autumn sown ones were flowering, so I took the net off them, and they got eaten! - the couple that survived, did grow on and flowered at the beginning of August, so would have been perfect succession.
Larkspur are tall flowers, so will need Staking. - You can expect to get 4-7 tall flowers from each plant, - but then they often reflower with shorter stems. - If you leave the flowers on, they will produce lots of seeds, which can be harvested as soon as the pods are brown and dried. - Fresh seeds germinates wonderfully, - so if you can keep the slugs off, they are easy to keep growing.
(photo credit Emma Davies)
In a wonderful range of White, pink, and blue, and lasting for a full week in the vase (or longer) plus, keeping their colour if they are dried, Larkspur are fantastic as garden annuals and cut flowers, and i'm looking forward to growing them, and picking them again this year.