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Delphinium Delphinium elatum

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Delphinium:

Phonetic Spelling
del-FIN-ee-um eh-LAY-tum
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Delphinium is an herbaceous perennial in the buttercup family native to woodlands, meadows, and river banks from Europe to Mongolia.  It has showy blue flowers that appear on racemes in the spring and make excellent cut flowers.

The species name in Latin elatus means tall, while delphis which means dolphin, refers to the shape of its flower buds.  

Boasting numerous varieties, the short range in height of 3-5' tall, the medium are 4 to 5.5' tall and the tall varieties are over 6' tall.  

A rather delicate choice for your garden, it will require support to maintain its upright habit.  Staking or planting along a fence in a location that will provide protection from strong winds and heavy rainfall is the optimal habit.  Some protection from afternoon sun in southernmost zones is required.  High humidity can also be detrimental to the success of this plant.  The ideal location will have cool, moist summers.  

Deadheading down to the basal leaves after it blooms may give you a second bloom period in the latter part of the summer and into fall.

Although susceptible to several fugal diseases, planting in a sunny location with good drainage and air circulation can help this plant to perform well.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  This high maintenance plant will require considerable attention in order to perform well in your garden.  Staking is necessary to hold it upright, while disease control will need to be performed on a regular basis.  Issues with crown rot, leaf spot, blight and powdery mildew are common.  Snails and slugs are attracted to this plant as well as aphids, leaf miners, mites and stem borers.  

Frequent feedings are necessary to support the growth and heavy blooming of this plant.

Considered a short-lived perennial, its lifespan ranges from 3 to 5 years.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alice Artingdale'
    Short variety - Blue edged mauve flowers
  • 'Aurora Blue'
    Deep blue flower with white center
  • 'Berghimmel'
    Tall variety - medium blue flowers with white center. Wind resistant
  • 'Black Knight'
    Hybrid, dark blue-purple with darker center
  • 'Bluebird'
    Hybrid, 3" double blooms, blue with white center
  • 'Blue Dawn'
    Medium variety - Pale blue flowers with pink tint, small black center
  • 'Blue Lace'
    Hybrid, 5" blooms of blue flowers with light or dark center
  • 'Blue Nile'
    Medium variety - deep indigo blue flowers with white center
  • 'Blushing Brides'
    Hybrid, rosy pink with white or brown center
  • 'Boningale Glory'
    Tall variety - Semi-double medium-blue flowers, violet tinged inner petals
  • 'Bruce'
    Tall variety - Semi-double violet flowers
  • 'Butterball'
    Short variety - Semi-double cream flowers with yellow center
  • 'Can-Can'
    Short variety - Pale purple-violet flowers with dark center
  • 'Cassius'
    Medium variety - Semi-double dark blue flowers with violet shading, brown center
  • 'Chelsea Star'
    Medium variety - Semi-double deep violet flowers with white center
  • 'Conspicous'
    Short variety - Semi-double violet-blue flowers with brown center
  • 'Crown Jewel'
    Short variety - Semi-double pale blue flowers with pink shading, brown center
  • 'Dasante Blue'
    Deep blue flowers with a purple tinge
  • 'Emily Hawkins'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pale violet flowers
  • 'Fanfare'
    Tall variety - Semi-double pale violet flowers with a silver tinge, white center
  • 'Faust'
    Tall variety - deep blue with purple tint, indigo center
  • 'Fenella'
    Short variety - Semi-double indigo-blue flowers with white center
  • 'Finsteraarhorn'
    Medium variety - Dark indigo blue flowers with black center. Wind resistant
  • 'Galahad'
    Hybrid, pure white with white center
  • 'Gillian Davis'
    Short variety - Semi-double gray-voilet with white center
  • 'Giotto'
    Medium variety - Semi-double with violet inner petals and indigo-blue outer petals. Yellow center
  • 'Gletscher Wasser'
    Medium variety - Pale blue flowers, wind resistant.
  • 'Gordon Forsyth'
    Tall variety - Semi-double violet flowers with gray center
  • 'Green Twist'
    Hybrid, white flowers tinges with green, greenish center
  • 'Jubelruf'
    Tall variety - Semi-double blue flowers with white center. Wind resistant
  • 'King Arthur'
    Red-purple with creamy white center
  • 'Langdon's Royal Flush'
    Short variety - Semi-double violet-pink flowers with cream center
  • 'Loch Leven'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pale violet flowers with white center
  • 'Lord Butler'
    Short variety - Semi-double blue flowers with violet tinting, cream center
  • 'Magic Fountains'
    Hybrid with deep blue flowers
  • 'Min'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pale violet flowers, dark purple veins and shading
  • 'Mother of Pearl'
    Tall variety - Semi-double pale blue and pink flowers with brown center. Wind resistant
  • 'Nachtwache'
    Tall variety - Semi-double violet blue flowers with white center
  • 'Olive Poppleton'
    Hybrid. White with brown center.
  • 'Pericles'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pale blue flowers with white center
  • 'Purple Passion'
    Large purple flowers.
  • 'Rosemary Brock'
    Short variety - Semi-double dusky rose flowers, darker edges, brown center
  • 'Royal Aspirations'
    Hybrid, Blue with white center
  • 'Sandpiper'
    Short variety - Semi-double white flowers with brown center
  • 'Skyline'
    Short variety - Semi-double pale blue with pink tinting and white centers with a blue tint
  • 'Spindrift'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pale blue flowers with cream center
  • 'Summer Blues'
    Pale blue flowers. Grows up to 7' tall.
  • 'Summer Morning'
    Pink flowers
  • 'Summer Stars'
    White flowers, dwarf variety.
  • 'Sungleam'
    Short variety - Semi-double cream flowers
  • 'Sweethearts'
    Rose-pink flowers
  • 'Tiddles'
    Short-variety - Double gray-violet flowers
  • 'Turkish Delight'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pink-violet flowers with white center
'Alice Artingdale', 'Aurora Blue', 'Berghimmel', 'Black Knight', 'Bluebird', 'Blue Dawn', 'Blue Lace', 'Blue Nile', 'Blushing Brides', 'Boningale Glory', 'Bruce', 'Butterball', 'Can-Can', 'Cassius', 'Chelsea Star', 'Conspicous', 'Crown Jewel', 'Dasante Blue', 'Emily Hawkins', 'Fanfare', 'Faust', 'Fenella', 'Finsteraarhorn', 'Galahad', 'Gillian Davis', 'Giotto', 'Gletscher Wasser', 'Gordon Forsyth', 'Green Twist', 'Jubelruf', 'King Arthur', 'Langdon's Royal Flush', 'Loch Leven', 'Lord Butler', 'Magic Fountains', 'Min', 'Mother of Pearl', 'Nachtwache', 'Olive Poppleton', 'Pericles', 'Purple Passion', 'Rosemary Brock', 'Royal Aspirations', 'Sandpiper', 'Skyline', 'Spindrift', 'Summer Blues', 'Summer Morning', 'Summer Stars', 'Sungleam', 'Sweethearts', 'Tiddles', 'Turkish Delight'
Tags:
#toxic#cottage garden#rabbit resistant#high maintenance#deer resistant#self-seeding#cutting garden#short lifespan#dried arrangements#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#toxic to humans#container plant#shade intolerant#short-lived perennials
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alice Artingdale'
    Short variety - Blue edged mauve flowers
  • 'Aurora Blue'
    Deep blue flower with white center
  • 'Berghimmel'
    Tall variety - medium blue flowers with white center. Wind resistant
  • 'Black Knight'
    Hybrid, dark blue-purple with darker center
  • 'Bluebird'
    Hybrid, 3" double blooms, blue with white center
  • 'Blue Dawn'
    Medium variety - Pale blue flowers with pink tint, small black center
  • 'Blue Lace'
    Hybrid, 5" blooms of blue flowers with light or dark center
  • 'Blue Nile'
    Medium variety - deep indigo blue flowers with white center
  • 'Blushing Brides'
    Hybrid, rosy pink with white or brown center
  • 'Boningale Glory'
    Tall variety - Semi-double medium-blue flowers, violet tinged inner petals
  • 'Bruce'
    Tall variety - Semi-double violet flowers
  • 'Butterball'
    Short variety - Semi-double cream flowers with yellow center
  • 'Can-Can'
    Short variety - Pale purple-violet flowers with dark center
  • 'Cassius'
    Medium variety - Semi-double dark blue flowers with violet shading, brown center
  • 'Chelsea Star'
    Medium variety - Semi-double deep violet flowers with white center
  • 'Conspicous'
    Short variety - Semi-double violet-blue flowers with brown center
  • 'Crown Jewel'
    Short variety - Semi-double pale blue flowers with pink shading, brown center
  • 'Dasante Blue'
    Deep blue flowers with a purple tinge
  • 'Emily Hawkins'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pale violet flowers
  • 'Fanfare'
    Tall variety - Semi-double pale violet flowers with a silver tinge, white center
  • 'Faust'
    Tall variety - deep blue with purple tint, indigo center
  • 'Fenella'
    Short variety - Semi-double indigo-blue flowers with white center
  • 'Finsteraarhorn'
    Medium variety - Dark indigo blue flowers with black center. Wind resistant
  • 'Galahad'
    Hybrid, pure white with white center
  • 'Gillian Davis'
    Short variety - Semi-double gray-voilet with white center
  • 'Giotto'
    Medium variety - Semi-double with violet inner petals and indigo-blue outer petals. Yellow center
  • 'Gletscher Wasser'
    Medium variety - Pale blue flowers, wind resistant.
  • 'Gordon Forsyth'
    Tall variety - Semi-double violet flowers with gray center
  • 'Green Twist'
    Hybrid, white flowers tinges with green, greenish center
  • 'Jubelruf'
    Tall variety - Semi-double blue flowers with white center. Wind resistant
  • 'King Arthur'
    Red-purple with creamy white center
  • 'Langdon's Royal Flush'
    Short variety - Semi-double violet-pink flowers with cream center
  • 'Loch Leven'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pale violet flowers with white center
  • 'Lord Butler'
    Short variety - Semi-double blue flowers with violet tinting, cream center
  • 'Magic Fountains'
    Hybrid with deep blue flowers
  • 'Min'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pale violet flowers, dark purple veins and shading
  • 'Mother of Pearl'
    Tall variety - Semi-double pale blue and pink flowers with brown center. Wind resistant
  • 'Nachtwache'
    Tall variety - Semi-double violet blue flowers with white center
  • 'Olive Poppleton'
    Hybrid. White with brown center.
  • 'Pericles'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pale blue flowers with white center
  • 'Purple Passion'
    Large purple flowers.
  • 'Rosemary Brock'
    Short variety - Semi-double dusky rose flowers, darker edges, brown center
  • 'Royal Aspirations'
    Hybrid, Blue with white center
  • 'Sandpiper'
    Short variety - Semi-double white flowers with brown center
  • 'Skyline'
    Short variety - Semi-double pale blue with pink tinting and white centers with a blue tint
  • 'Spindrift'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pale blue flowers with cream center
  • 'Summer Blues'
    Pale blue flowers. Grows up to 7' tall.
  • 'Summer Morning'
    Pink flowers
  • 'Summer Stars'
    White flowers, dwarf variety.
  • 'Sungleam'
    Short variety - Semi-double cream flowers
  • 'Sweethearts'
    Rose-pink flowers
  • 'Tiddles'
    Short-variety - Double gray-violet flowers
  • 'Turkish Delight'
    Medium variety - Semi-double pink-violet flowers with white center
'Alice Artingdale', 'Aurora Blue', 'Berghimmel', 'Black Knight', 'Bluebird', 'Blue Dawn', 'Blue Lace', 'Blue Nile', 'Blushing Brides', 'Boningale Glory', 'Bruce', 'Butterball', 'Can-Can', 'Cassius', 'Chelsea Star', 'Conspicous', 'Crown Jewel', 'Dasante Blue', 'Emily Hawkins', 'Fanfare', 'Faust', 'Fenella', 'Finsteraarhorn', 'Galahad', 'Gillian Davis', 'Giotto', 'Gletscher Wasser', 'Gordon Forsyth', 'Green Twist', 'Jubelruf', 'King Arthur', 'Langdon's Royal Flush', 'Loch Leven', 'Lord Butler', 'Magic Fountains', 'Min', 'Mother of Pearl', 'Nachtwache', 'Olive Poppleton', 'Pericles', 'Purple Passion', 'Rosemary Brock', 'Royal Aspirations', 'Sandpiper', 'Skyline', 'Spindrift', 'Summer Blues', 'Summer Morning', 'Summer Stars', 'Sungleam', 'Sweethearts', 'Tiddles', 'Turkish Delight'
Tags:
#toxic#cottage garden#rabbit resistant#high maintenance#deer resistant#self-seeding#cutting garden#short lifespan#dried arrangements#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#toxic to humans#container plant#shade intolerant#short-lived perennials
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Delphinium
    Species:
    elatum
    Family:
    Ranunculaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe to Mongolia
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edibility:
    Toxic if eaten.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Mounding
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Erect central racemes will produce up to 100 florets. It will be encompassed by several smaller racemes called side spikes that form at the leaf joints below the central spike.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Each blue-green leaf will contain 5 to 7 lobed parts.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Description:
    The stems are hollow and need support to prevent bending and breaking.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    Digestive issues
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Alkaloids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Flowers
    Leaves
    Stems