Delphiniums bring to mind the vision of tall spikes of blue flowers in the background of the English perennial border and old fashioned cottage garden. The modern Delphinium is a result of hybridization of Delphinium species from many parts of the world.

A member of the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family, Delphinium consists of around 250 species of annuals, biennials, and perennials. Delphinium comes from the Greek word for dolphin, a reference to the new flower bud's resemblance to the bottle-like nose of the dolphin.

In Tudor England some of the species grown were referred to as "larkspur" apparently because the nectar sepal looked somewhat akin to a lark's claw. The common name larkspur also applies to a similar looking but different plant called Consolida ajacis.

Delphinium flowers may be single or double. Blue is the most common color; however, red, pink, white, and violet flowered varieties, also are available. Many flowers have white or black centers known as "bees."

Flowers occur in regal spikes with numerous flowers on each spike. The spikes of most delphiniums make attractive, long-lasting cut flowers. The foliage is palmately lobed and is divided into 3 to 7 parts depending upon the location on the stem.

Mature plants can reach 6 to 9 feet tall, though dwarf varieties grow 3 to 4 feet tall. Placing the tall plants in the background of a perennial bed is one popular choice. Delphiniums can also be used as specimen plants or as a small grouping in the garden.

Some Delphiniums you can expect to find at Portland Nursery:

Delphinium 'Aurora Lavender'

Delphinium elatum
Aurora Series

A newer group of hybrids with excellent uniformity, vigor and sturdy stems

Semi-double flowers in shades of blue, purple, lavender and white in summer.

Grows 3-4' tall and wide

Zones 3-8.

D. elatum Guardian Series

Delphinium elatum
Guardian Series

A Pacific Giant hybrid that grows 24 to 36 inches tall and wide.

Flowers in shades of blue, lavender, and white.

Hardy in zones 4-8.

D. elatum Guardian Series

Delphinium elatum
Magic Fountain Mix

Bushy plants are 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide with blue, lilac and white flowers in June. Well suited for windy areas.

D. elatum 'New Millennium Series'

Delphinium elatum
New Millennium Series

An English hybrid bred for exceptional garden performance.

Sturdy, strong-stemmed spikes packed with loads of richly colored flowers, often double or semidouble that can re-bloom during a single season.

Grows 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Zones 3-8.

Some varieties include 'Black Eyed Angels'- white with black bee, 'Blue Lace'- sky blue, 'Green Twist'- white flowers tinted green, 'Pagan Purples'- shades of deep blue and purple.

Delphinium elatum 'Hybride'

Delphinium elatum
Pacific Giant Hybrids

Spikes of semi-double blue, lavender, pink, white and bi-color florets.

Grows 4 to 6 feet and can re-bloom in a single season.

Zones 3-8.

Several varieties include 'Black Knight'- dark blue with black bee, 'Galahad'-pure white double flowers, 'Guinevere'- lavender pink with white bee, and 'King Arthur'- deep purple with white bee.

Delphinium grandiflorum 'Blue Butterfly'

Delphinium grandiflorum 'Blue Butterfly'

Cobalt blue flowers May through August

Grows 12-18" tall by 18" wide

Great in containers

Zones 3-8.

D. nudicaule 'DeRosso Red'

Delphinium nudicaule 'DeRosso Red' (Red Larkspur)

Vibrant flowers in a most unusual color for delphiniums are irresistible to hummingbirds and butterflies.

Compact, bushy plants are 10 to 14 inches and bloom in May.

Prefers dryish, rocky, well drained soil.

Beautiful at a garden's edge, rock gardens or in patio containers.

Zone 5.

Find the Best Perennials for your Garden

We have a wonderful selection of perennials year round, but if you are looking for a specific perennial we will have the best selection when it is in bloom around town. Note: Native plant pages will take you into the Native Plant section.


Lewisia: Bitterroot