Delphinium grandiflorum, the Chinese Delphinium, have a much different appearance and habit than the classic Delphinium. Growing to just 30 to 45cm (12 to 15in) tall, they are one of the shortest of delphiniums available. The plants form a bushy a well behaved mound of finely dissected foliage, and never needs staking.
Delphinium grandiflorum ‘Blue Butterfly’ produces racemes of gentian blue flowers, a rich true gentian blue. A unique colour difficult to find in any annual or perennial, hints of violet can be seen at the tips of some petals and the centres. The flower stalks are broad and branched and the flowers are held close to the foliage mound.
‘Blue Butterfly’ is a true dwarf so is perfect for front of the border, it also makes an excellent container plant. This is an easy Delphinium to grow and care for, and is a good variety for warm climates performing well in heat and humidity. The plants prefer morning sun with afternoon shade and moist, well-drained, humus-rich, neutral to alkaline soil.
As with all delphiniums, which are a classed as a 'short-lived' perennial, their return is by no means guaranteed and they are at best short-lived, but will self-sow if pleased with the site. However, ‘Blue Butterfly’ can also be easily grown as an annual or a biennial. Sown early in the year, the plants grown will bloom the first year. If sown in late summer they will give earlier blooms the following summer.
Well-tended plants produce secondary spikes in late summer, when the blooms have faded remove the flower stalks for continuous blooming from the end of summer and into autumn.
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 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. 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.
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.
NB 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 tall Delphiniums are mostly hybrids developed from the early 1800's from the species Delphinium elatum, Delphinium grandiflorum, Delphinium exaltatum, and Delphinium formosum.
The native range of this species, Delphinium grandiflorum includes northern China, Mongolia and the steppes of eastern Siberia, where it erupts in sunny meadows and grows swiftly due to the short growing seasons.
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 species name grandiflorum means 'larger flowered'.
Delphinium grandiflorum is also called Chinese Larkspur, sometimes Siberian Larkspur, because the native range of the species includes northern China, Mongolia and the steppes of eastern Siberia.
The cut flowers are so extraordinary that this species of Delphinium is sometimes called ‘Bouquet Larkspur.’
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 1,000 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 1,000 seeds per gram Family Ranunculaceae Genus Delphinium Species grandiflorum Cultivar Blue Butterfly Common Name Dwarf Chinese Delphinium, Bouquet Larkspur. Hardiness Hardy Perennial Natural Flower Time June to September Height 30 to 45cm (12 to 15in) Spread 30 to 45cm (12 to 15in) 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),