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Connecticut Garden Journal: Delphiniums are fickle plants, but certainly worth growing

Tall spike of blue flowers of Delphinium 'Guardian Blue'
John Caley/Getty Images/iStockphoto
A tall spike of Delphinium 'Guardian Blue' flowers.

If you're looking for a perennial flower that will break your heart, try delphiniums. These beauties grow large and tall, loaded with beautiful white, pink, blue or purple flowers and are stunning in your garden. However, delphiniums can be fickle, lasting only a few years in the garden before succumbing to root disease, insects or just a tough Connecticut winter. But if you’re willing to accept that this love affair won't last forever, then delphiniums are certainly worth growing.

Look for hybrid delphiniums that feature shorter and stronger flower stalks and tougher plants. The New Millennium Mix series features bushy and vigorous plants with colorful flower stalks reaching to 3- to 4-feet tall. They tolerate diseases and hot, humid weather better than other delphiniums. 'Guardian Blue' has 4-foot-tall flower stalks with an amazing, electric blue colored, double flowers. The 'Connecticut Yankee' delphinium is a shorter, bushier heritage variety that only grows 2 plus feet tall with single, satiny colored blooms in shade of pink, blue and purple.

Plant delphiniums in a protected spot with full sun and well drained soil. Fertilize in spring with a balanced, organic product. Stake tall varieties with garden ties to support and prevent them snapping during a summer storm. To avoid powdery mildew and other diseases, grow tolerant varieties such as 'Galahad' and 'King Arthur.' After flowering remove the flower stalks and the plant may send up a second round of flowers later in summer.

Don't be disappointed if your delphiniums fail to return after 3 years or so. They're known as short-lived perennials no matter how much care you give them.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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