Monkshood Overview

Description 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. 
Genus Name Aconitum
Common Name Monkshood
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 1 foot
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Purple, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Low Maintenance
Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant

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

Monkshood Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii'

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

Monkshood Aconitum cammarum 'Bicolor'

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

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

Plant Monkshood With:


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toad lily

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Garden Plans For Monkshood

Side Garden
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