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Vermont Garden Journal: Delphiniums

06/22/12 5:55PM

I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. This stately perennial has white, pink, blue, or purple flower buds that the ancient Greeks called delphis or dolphin. They thought the flower buds resemble Flipper, but I really don't see it.

Anyway, we know theses plants as delphiniums. This hardy perennial makes a great backdrop to any flower garden. The tall modern hybrids that we are most familiar with were developed in the 20th century as a result of breeding in England. These Delphinium elatum types often grow 6 feet tall with densely packed single or double flowers, although they might be short lived. Newer tall varieties from New Zealand, such as the New Millennium Series, feature longer lived plants, thicker flower stalks and better resistance to heat and humidity. 

If you don't want to grow these tall lines of delphinium, try the shorter Delphinium grandiflora species such as 'Blue Butterflies'. They only grow 12 to 18 inches tall and this variety has airy, deep blue, single flowers that literally float like butterflies in your garden.

Delphiniums like full sun, moist, rich soil and regular watering and feeding to grow their best. The flower stalks are hollow and very susceptible to breaking during windy days. Plant them in groups to support each other, where they will be protected from the wind and stake the flower stalks as they develop. Thin to the strongest 5 to 7 flower stalks per plant. Delphiniums make nice cut flowers lasting for a week indoors in a vase. Also, cut back the flower stalks immediately after flowering and you may get a second flush of blooms later in summer.

For this week's tip, is time to thin. Thin peaches, plums, apples, and pears now while the fruits are still small. Thin apples and pears to 6 inches between fruit clusters, peaches to 6 to 8 inches between individual fruits and plums to 3 to 4 inches between fruits. Thinning will result in better size and quality fruit.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal I'll be talking trellising vegetables. For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden!

Growing Delphiniums
Graceful Gardens Delphiniums


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