The National Garden Bureau has proclaimed 2016 the Year of the Delphinium. Grown for its glorious spikes jam-packed with flowers, this elegant perennial reigns as queen of the perennial border. There are dwarf varieties like Dasante Blue that grow about two feet tall, mid-size cultivars like Double Innocence that reach up to four feet, and tall types like the D. elatum hybrids that stretch up to six feet tall.
Delphiniums have a reputation of being difficult to grow and, as with all royals, they do make some demands of their gardener. But with mandates met, they bestow the gift of majestic flowers in shades of white, purple, lavender, pink or blue in late spring or summer.
Delphiniums are very happy to grow in our clay soils, as long as they are heavily amended with organic matter, and prefer soil that is consistently moist, but well drained. They suffer if soil dries out; they rot in soggy soil.
Plant them in a site with sun or light shade. Refuge from the hot afternoon sun is preferred. Choose a spot protected from strong winds, and stake taller varieties. Stake plants when they are small with branches, bamboo stakes, metal flower supports or peony grow-though rings.
Give delphiniums space – do not crowd them. Good air circulation will help prevent powdery mildew.
Delphiniums are hungry. Fertilize as new growth begins in spring with a balanced granular fertilizer and every few weeks in summer with a water soluble fertilizer or fish emulsion.
Deadhead flowers as soon as they have finished blooming and another round of flowers, on shorter stems, will bloom in late summer. After heavy frost in fall, cut plants back.
Why would the National Garden Bureau choose delphiniums as one of their Plants of the Year? Why should you plant this garden diva? Meet this diva’s demands and she’ll put on a magnificent floral performance like no other. She is the exquisite empress of the border!
Plant Delphiniums in 2016 and garden with me!