No other blue quite measures up to the almost iridescent hues of Delphinium “Cliveden Beauty” It belongs to a group that characteristically has branching flowering stems rather than single spires of flowers. The flowers are borne from June to August, on tall, loose, spikes at the tips of the growing stem. The many individual blooms are clear light blue, each with a white centre. They are wonderful old-fashioned flowering plants that are well worth cultivating for their magnificent hues.
Belladonna Delphiniums are crosses between D. elatum and D. cheilanthum, which produce loosely branched spikes of elf cap shaped single flowers. The plants are multi-branching and grow to just 75 to 90cm (30 to 36in) tall, and around 25 to 30cm (10 to 12in) wide, so are suitable for most gardens and do not need staking in most situations. These good natured delphiniums have good mildew resistance and are very hardy, able to withstand temperatures down to minus 30°C (-34°F).
Delphiniums are one of the most loved and one of the most traditional plants for the herbaceous and mixed border. With an upright habit, they produce stems with divided, green, palmate leaves of a delicate nature.
Their delicate flowers make them ideal for cottage gardens or as massed landscape plants.
The clear blue blooms are very popular with florists and are suitable for greenhouse, field or garden cut flower production. When the blooms are over, cut back the plants and they will re-bloom until frosts.
Sowing: Sow seeds in January to May or sow in September to October.
January to May is the best time for sowing, the early you sow the better chance of planting out in summer. Use a clean tray or pot with a good quality peat based seed compost. Lightly firm the compost. Scatter the seed lightly on the surface. Cover the seed with a thin layer of vermiculite. Water in lightly. Keep in a place with a temperature of 15 to 18°C (60 to 70°F), a propagator with bottom heat is ideal. Alternatively cover the pot with a plastic bag and turn the bag inside out every 3 days to prevent excessive condensation. Place on the windowsill out of direct sunlight. Keep on the dry side and seed should germinate after 15 to 21 days. Remove from the propagator or plastic bag once germination has occurred.
When seeds are big enough to handle, generally around four weeks after sowing, transplant into a small cell tray with a peat based compost. Water carefully. Once big enough pot into a 9cm (4in) pot with a peat based compost. Liquid feed as required. Harden off and plant out from May until July.
If you have sown your seed late then grow your plant on in pots until it goes into winter dormancy. Keep dry and frost free in a garage, greenhouse or a porch over winter. Once green shoots appear water your plant and keep in a well lit, frost free area ready for planting out in May.
Before planting out your young plant choose a site which is not waterlogged during the winter, sheltered from strong winds and which receives plenty of sunshine.
Water your plant well and soak the root-ball in a bucket of water. Prepare the ground thoroughly by incorporating organic matter or compost as delphiniums enjoy rich soils. Small plants are best planted in the summer months.
Give your plant plenty of space as a fully mature plant will easily fill a 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) space and delphiniums are best not crowded in the border. Plant at the correct depth so that the compost is level with soil. Firm the plant in securely so that the roots can establish quickly. Water in well and try not water the leaves if possible. Delphiniums grow in most soils but need plenty of food and moisture to perform well so make sure you water regularly until the plant is established and feed this plant heavily, every season.
Belladonna delphiniums do not need staking in most garden situations, but in more exposed sites you may wish to do so, if only to prevent its head from flopping.
It is best to start when plants are still small and use a square or triangle of 120cm (4ft) canes close to the plant and tied together with twine. Place the canes 30cm (1ft) in the ground taking care not to damage the crown or the roots of the plant. This allows the spikes some movement. Twigs can also be used successfully and are less obtrusive. Start tying the plant at about 15cm (6in) with the final tie just below the florets. Tie firmly but not too tightly and always allow the plant some movement so that spikes do not snap in the wind.
Delphiniums usually flower May to July but young plants often have their first flowering in late summer after their roots have established. After flowering, if seeds are not required, cut the spike down to the level of the foliage. This stops the plant setting seed and directs its energy to the roots. In later years the fewer the spikes the better the flowers will be. The plants look their best by the second year and needs dividing by year three to assure propagation.
Protect from slugs and snails at all times.
Once the foliage has died back in the autumn stems can be cut down to ground level and all staking removed. On wet soils particularly slugs and snails will over winter near plants and eat the fresh shoots as they appear. These must be controlled with slug pellets or a range of other methods.
New growth should appear in spring and as soon as this appears plants can be fed with a good balanced compound fertiliser such as blood fish and bone meal.
Apart from protecting your plant from slugs and snails, pay good attention to glasshouse hygiene, using only fresh trays, pots, compost, water and clean bench tops to avoid damping-off diseases
Mildew (a grey mould on the foliage or flowers) can cause concern in humid weather when plants dry out. To guard against this you can make sure your plant does not get too dry and spray with a fungicide early in the season, as per manufacturer’s instructions.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Cut Flowers and Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, Prairie Planting, Wildflower Gardens or Wildlife Gardens.
Note: All parts of delphinium are poisonous and may cause discomfort if eaten and the foliage can irritate the skin.
The Delphinium is a member of the Ranuculaceae family which contains almost 300 species of annual, biennial or perennial delphiniums. The plants are native to the Northern Hemisphere and some high mountainous regions of tropical Africa and are grown for their spikes or racemes of cup shaped flowers.
Today's Delphiniums are mostly hybrids developed from the early 1800's from the species Delphinium elatum, Delphinium grandiflorum, Delphinium exaltatum, and Delphinium formosum.
Delphinium is taken from the the Greek word delphinion, derived from delphinos or delphis for "dolphin" thought to be so named because of the similarity of the opening flower to the sea mammal.
In Tudor England some of the species grown were referred to as Larkspur and occasionally Lark's Heel (from Shakespeare), Lark's Claw, and Knight's Spur, apparently because the nectar sepal looked somewhat akin to a lark's claw. The common name Larkspur also applies to a similar looking but different plant called Consolida ajacis.
The Belladonna types used to be called termed "Garland Larkspurs" (Bailey, 1930). In 1945 there were at least 45 variants listed by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Belladonna are hybrids are bred from two species, D. elatum (the Candle Delphinium ) and D. cheilanthum. The name "elatium" means taller, loftier or more exalted and cheilanthum means "lipped flower". Cheilanthum can be pronounced in two ways - kay-LAN-thum or chey-LAN-thum.
The history of the cultivated Delphiniums is extremely complex. As early as 1778, D. elatum and another form, listed as D. azureum were offered in the trade, and at least by 1824 D. two varieties of D.grandiflorum were offered.
Other species were rapidly introduced and by the middle of the century hybridisation was being carried on by a number of French growers, chief among whom was Victor Lemoine, originator of most of the first varieties of perennial garden Delphiniums.
English plantsmen were somewhat later in the field, but particularly since the 1870's, when the first varieties of James Kelway were introduced, a large part of the development of new hybrids has been carried out in Britain.
As nearly as can be ascertained, most of the present forms were derived from relatively few species. D. grandiflorum and D. elatum have chiefly been involved, although hybrids with other species, including D. tatsienense Franch. (Lemoine,1914), D. cardinale Hook. (Wilde, 1931), and D. nudicaule Torr. and Gray (Lawrence, 1936) have enjoyed some popularity.
D. Belladonna first appeared some time after the middle of the last century; the earliest known mention of its name is in 'Floricultural Cabinet and Florist's Magazine' for 1857, where it is listed as a desirable form with large pale lavender-blue flowers.
In the 1865 catalogue of James Backhouse & Son, of York, England, Belladonna is listed and described as "a lovely turquoise, perfectly hardy."
There are sporadic references to the plant in various horticultural publications before 1880, in which year the English firm of Kelway introduced it to a wide market.
It is of interest that the 'Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society' (1907) says of Sutton's first seedlings:
"Some resembled Delphinium Belladonna very closely, but some more nearly approached Delphinium formosum, and one bore flowers of a very beautiful deep blue tint."
- Additional Information
Packet Size 50mg Average Seed Count 25 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 500 seeds per gram Family Ranunculaceae Genus Delphinium Species D. elatum x D. cheilanthum Cultivar Cliveden Beauty Synonym Delphinium hybridum Common Name Belladonna Group. Aka “Clivedon Beauty" Other Language Names Speronella , Delfinio, Rittersporne, Ridderspoor, Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy down to -30°C (-34°F) Flowers Clear light blue with a white centre Natural Flower Time June to September Height 75 to 90cm (30 to 36in) Spread 25 to 30cm (10 to 12in) wide Position Full sun preferred although they will grow in part shade. Soil Fertile, well-drained soil Germination 15 to 21 days at 15 to 18°C (60 to 70°F),