Larkspur is a classic cottage garden staple that produces great cut flowers. With airy stalks of blue blossoms, this plant adds a gracefulness to any garden and looks good in masses or mixed with other perennials and annuals. A true annual, larkspur is easy to start from seed and will happily reseed itself in the garden year after year.
With blooms coming in beautiful shades of sky to navy blue, it's easy to see why larkspur is planted year after year. Blue is a hard to find color in the flower world, and larkspur has it in spades. You can find these blooms in both single and double varieties. Some varieties feature numerous petals that create a pom-pom effect. Plants will bloom longer if you remove old blossoms.
Larkspur Care Must-Knows
Larkspurs are extremely unfussy plants and grow easily from seed. In southern climates, you can sow seeds directly in the ground in the fall. As soon as the weather begin to warm up in early spring, they will happily sprout and begin their show. Because they are cool-season annuals, the plants will begin to brown and die in the humid summers of the South. In more northern climates, sow seeds in early spring. Plants can last longer into the summer in the North before the weather gets too warm.
The foliage of larkspur is a great addition to the plant (and the garden!). Light, airy foliage lends a soft fern-like effect. It also helps plants blend in the garden, making larkspur extremely versatile when paired with other plants.
When planting larkspur, make sure you choose well-drained soil. Larkspur doesn't like to stay wet for long periods of time, but it does need consistent moisture. Be sure that plants stay evenly moist, especially when flowering. If they remain too dry for too long, plants can become stunted and have poor bud set, so you may miss out on blooms.
Related: Deadheading for Extended Bloom
For the best blooms, plant larkspur in full sun. Although plants can handle a small amount of shade, they are more likely to flop and require stakes. You can prevent this by planting larkspur near tall neighbors to act as a support system, by sowing plants densely, or by planting them along a wall or structure.
Larkspur vs. Delphinium
A very close relative of larkspur, delphinium looks almost identical in many aspects, but a few differences set these two plants apart. Delphinium tends to be a perennial species, whereas larkspur is an annual. Foliage of larkspur is finer textured than delphinium. When it comes to blooms, delphinium flowers are densely born on spikes while individual blossoms tend to be much larger than larkspur. With those few exceptions, general plant care and maintenance is basically the same.
More Varieties of Larkspur
Consolida 'Cloudy Skies Mix' bears blooms in shades of purple, blue, white, and silver on 3-foot-tall plants.
Consolida 'Imperial Strain' bears stately spikes in shades of pink, rose, blue, purple, or white on strong 4-foot stems.
Larkspur Companion Plants
You can depend on this cottage-garden favorite to fill your garden with color all season long. The simple, daisylike flowers appear in cheery shades on tall stems that are great for cutting. The lacy foliage makes a pretty backdrop for shorter plants. Cosmos often self-seeds in the garden, so you may only have to plant it once, though the colors can appear muddy or odd after reseeding. Plant cosmos from seed directly in the ground in spring, or start from established seedlings. This flower doesn't like fertilizer or conditions that are too rich, which causes the foliage to be large and lush but with fewer blooms. It does best with average moisture but will tolerate drought.
Few gardens should be without the easy charm of snapdragons. They get their name from the fact that you can gently squeeze the sides of the intricately shaped flower and see the jaws of a dragon head snap closed. The blooms come in gorgeous colors, including some with beautiful color variations on each flower. Snapdragons are an outstanding cut flower. Gather a dozen or more stems in a small vase and you'll have one of the prettiest bouquets around. Snapdragons are especially useful because they are a cool-season annual, coming into their own in early spring when the warm-season annuals, such as marigolds and impatiens, are just being planted. They're also great for fall color. Plant snapdragons in early spring, a few weeks before your region's last frost date. Deadhead regularly for best bloom and fertilize regularly. Snapdragons often self-seed in the landscape if not deadheaded, so they come back year after year, though the colors from hybrid plants may often look muddy. In mild regions, the entire plant may overwinter if covered with mulch.
Plant marguerite daisy for a spectacular show during cool weather. Often confused with Shasta daisy, marguerite is more mounded and shrubby. Bloom colors include pink, white, and a purple that resembles purple coneflower. Marguerite daisy's hallmark is that it loves cool weather, blooming best in most areas in spring and fall, though it will continue to bloom through the summer in mild-summer areas. Even when it's not in bloom, the dark green, finely cut foliage looks good against just about any light-color flower.