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Monkshood

Aconitum

Similar to its cousin delphinium, monkshood forms beautiful spires of purple or deep-blue flowers. The blossoms are held above attractive dissected foliage that gives the plant an almost fernlike appearance. While monkshood is pretty, its roots and seeds are poisonous. Plant monkshood in areas away from where children or pets play. 

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

From 1 to 8 feet

Width:

1 foot

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Problem Solvers:

Special Features:

Zones:

3-8

Propagation

Colorful Combinations

One of the main reasons to grow this stunning plant is for its deep, rich blue flowers. Along with the common blue color, you can find monkshood in pink, white, and sometimes even yellow. The name monkshood comes from the modified petals on the flowers that resemble the cowls or hoods worn by monks. Along with the attractive spikes of the blossoms, monkshood's foliage is quite attractive. 

See more of our favorite fall garden plants here.

Potent Poison

Though it's arguably worth growing for its attractive blooms, monkshood has a reputation that dates all the way back to Greek and Roman mythology for the deadly compounds it produces. Another common name of this plant is wolfsbane, as years ago it was used as a poison in wolf bait. In areas of Europe and Asia where monkshood is native, indigenous people used it to help hunt animals, either in powdered form or by rubbing sap onto arrows and other hunting tools. While all parts of this plant are extremely toxic and poisonous, the seeds and roots have the highest concentrations of the poison. If you are growing monkshood be sure to always wear gloves when handling plants and wash your hands thoroughly when finished. 

Monkshood Care Must-Knows

One of the most important requirements for growing monkshood is consistently moist soil. It is also important that the soil is well-drained to prevent rot in its tuberous roots. Monkshood also benefits from very rich, organic soil in order to put out the lushest growth possible. 

Although monkshood is usually found in rocky settings, it is perfectly happy living in a woodland setting, too. For the best growth habit, monkshood should be grown in full sun. In areas with a warmer climate, monkshood grows in part shade or areas that receive afternoon shade. But if planted in too much shade, the plants will become floppy and loose in habit and will require support or staking. Once the blooms of monkshood are spent, it is best to remove old blossoms to help encourage a secondary, late-season bloom. 

Find more ideas for cool climate perennials here.

More Varieties Of Monkshood

'Arendsii' Monkshood

Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii' is a late bloomer with large intense blue-purple flowers. The sturdy plants normally need no staking unless grown in too much shade. It grows 4 feet tall. Zones 3-7.

'Bicolor' Monkshood

Aconitum cammarum 'Bicolor' features pale lavender to violet flowers with darker purple petals below. It grows 4 feet tall. Zones 3-7.

Monkshood

Aconitum napellus blooms in deep purple-blue in late summer. Plants grow to 5 feet tall. Zones 5-8.

Plant Monkshood With:

Astilbe
Astilbe brings a graceful, feathering note to moist, shady landscapes. In cooler climates in the northern third or so of the country, it can tolerate full sun provided it has a constant supply of moisture. In drier sites, however, the leaves will scorch in full sun.Feathery plumes of white, pink, lavender, or red flowers rise above the finely divided foliage from early to late summer depending on the variety. It will spread slowly over time where well-situated. Most commercially available types are complex hybrids.
Hosta
This plant hardly grown 40 years ago is now one of the most commonly grown garden plants. But hosta has earned its spot in the hearts of gardeners -- it's among the easiest plants to grow, as long as you have some shade and ample rainfall.Hostas vary from tiny plants suitable for troughs or rock gardens to massive 4-foot clumps with heart-shape leaves almost 2 feet long that can be puckered, wavy-edged, white or green variegated, blue-gray, chartreuse, emerald-edged -- the variations are virtually endless. Hostas in new sizes and touting new foliage features seem to appear each year. This tough, shade-loving perennial, also known as plaintain lily, blooms with white or purplish lavender funnel-shape or flared flowers in summer. Some are intensely fragrant. Hostas are a favorite of slug and deer.
Toad lily
No fall garden should be without toad lilies. These Asian curiosities bloom with orchid-like flowers that demand a close look, when the garden is winding down in fall. They do best in light shade in humus-rich soil that retains moisture, and are suitable for borders or less formal parts of the garden and among shrubs gradually becoming large clumps. Some self-seed but not aggressively.
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