August 2021 Plant of the Month for Boulder Colorado area landscapes

Larkspur

Boulder Colorado area landscapes {Plant of the Month Series}

Larkspur - August 2021 Boulder Colorado landscaping

Larkspur, or Delphinium X (cultorum previously elatum, grandiflorum and belladona) is a highly ornamental and sought after perennial for cultivated gardens. It has been cultivated extensively since the mid 1800’s in Europe and specifically in England. There are over 500 species to date. They can be difficult to grow due to their height and susceptibility to breakage in wind and heavy rain, but are a stunning addition to any perennial bed if they succeed. Staking is sometimes required, but with enough plants in a cluster, they tend to support each other. They come in a variety of colors, though often blue and purple are the most common. They like full sun, loamy soil, and are moderate water users. They grow native in the northern Hemisphere and mountaintops of Africa as relic species. Some native species in the western US present a problem to ranchers.

Delphinium are toxic to both humans and livestock, especially the younger growth. As such, ranchers in the west often delay moving cattle to higher ground until late summer when the toxicity of the plant is lessened. All parts of the plant are toxic if ingested, though there is minimal to no toxicity if touched with bare skin. Alkaloids are responsible for the toxicity if ingested and can lead to cardiac failure. Do not eat it.

That said, it has still been a longtime favorite for purist horticulturists in Boulder Colorado landscapes. They work well in the back of a perennial bed or the center of an island bed due to their height. If deadheaded properly after the first flowering, they can send a second wave of blooms out for stunning late summer and fall color. Plant carefully in your garden today.


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