Delphinium Growing Tips

Often delphiniums are thought of as difficult and time consuming to grow. This is not the case. While like all plants they thrive in ideal conditions, a few basic growing techniques will ensure quality spikes in most gardens.

Soil: Delphiniums prosper in most soil types. Amend the soil with compost before planting. Do not allow waterlogged soil as this will promote crown rot. If necessary, raise the bed slightly.

: Delphiniums do not like to be disturbed but if necessary move only young plants and very early in the spring, just as they begin to grow.

: As the plants mature, if they produce many stems, the weak ones should be cut off close to the ground in early spring. The remaining stems will grow stronger and produce a better display.

needs to be consistent, especially during the growing season. Delphiniums are shallow rooted but a good soaking once a week should suffice for mature plants. We are on a hill with south exposure and rely on well water, so our watering is minimal. Mulch may be beneficial but not directly on the crowns.

After flowering
cut off the spikes but leave the foliage until new growth starts at the base of the plant, to promote strong roots. You may be rewarded in the autumn with a second flowering but the spikes likely won’t be as tall as in July.

Winter care
: Cut off plant material and clear the beds of debris before the winter, to reduce the possibility of slug damage. Our Delphiniums are very hardy and do not require winter mulch. They enjoy a good snow cover, if Mother Nature provides it in your area.

Slug and Snail Control: A thin layer of coarse gritty sand will help discourage these pests year round but be sure it has an open texture and will not form a crust which would affect new growth. Eliminate as many pests as possible by handpicking. Evenings or early mornings are usually most productive for both slugs and snails. In late autumn, cut the stems and foliage of delphiniums to the ground. Remove all leaves, debris and weeds from around the plants as slugs and snails winter over in these. If your garden is heavily infested with slugs and snails, late winter and early spring may be times of excessive damage. A solution of aluminum sulphate (usually 2 oz. mixed in one gallon of water is enough for 4 plants) may be sprayed over the area of dormant delphiniums during the winter. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for recommended strengths. This solution is astringent and therefore is able to kill adult slugs and snails as well as their eggs. Care must be taken to never spray a plant drown directly unless it is dormant. Aluminum sulphate is a soil acidifier so over use will change your soil pH and may require an application of lime in the spring.




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