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Grow Delphiniums from Seed

How to Grow Delphiniums from Seed, a less expensive way to get more of this gorgeous perennial.

Delphiniums are a beautiful element of the classic English Cottage garden.  They stand tall and stately (up to 6 feet) and are worth the fuss to keep them looking fabulous and  healthy.

I show you how to grow delphiniums from seed in this post to get great germination rates.

I updated this post and at the end I will share how I started more seeds this year.

How to Grow Delphiniums from Seed (10 of 15)

What type Delphiniums

This post I will focus on the Delphinium elatum, a hybrid that performs so much better than the Pacific hybrids.  They are hardier and taller, while being much less mildew prone.

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Where to buy Delphinium seeds

As far as buying the Delphinium elatum as plants the nearest to me supplier is over 3 hours away at Annies Annuals which is in Richmond, CA, and if you visit over on her site you will see she has only high praises for this particular type of Delphinium.

Instead of plants I chose to order the seeds from the breeder in New Zealand…Dowdesewell’s Delphiniums.  I have had wonderful results. (they also have a list of growers that sell their Delphiniums as plants, you may have someone near you)

I have a friend growing Pacific Giants and I am giving them a try: Pacific Giants from Botanical Interests I will let you know my results.

The Pacific Giants have done very well. We have dry summers and very little humidity so mildew was not an issue. So feel free to grow these beauties.

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Grow Delphiniums from Seeds

So do you want to know how I grow these beauties from seed?

(this is one way, I share another further down that eliminates the pre-germination part.)

It is very simple.  When they first arrive I refrigerate or pre-chill the seeds for a week. 

When I am ready to pre-germinate them I wet a coffee filter place the seeds on one half of the now wet coffee filter and fold over, insert into a large plastic bag (I used a  zip loc bag) and I set it in an out of the way spot. 

For me that was on top of the outside of the refrigerator.

(do not use a paper towel, the roots will penetrate it and you will have to cut them apart which is fiddly and messy),  

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I hold the bag up to a window and check it after about 5 days (Delphs germinate in about 7 to 10 days but you never can tell when you get an early bird). 

From that day forward I check it daily and when I see a little white tail I know it is time to put the germinated seeds into pots.

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I have some tubs with seed starting mix all ready to go… and I transfer the sprouted seeds to the tub.

Cover the seed oh so lightly with the mix or chick grit and press in. For more on how I start plants from seed CLICK HERE

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The not yet sprouted seeds get folded back up in the coffee filter and returned to the ziploc bag until they do germinate. 

Pretty soon you should have a bunch of delphiniums..Yay!

Pot them up into individual pots as they grow taller and stronger.

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Plant Your Delphiniums

Once planted in the garden you will need to protect them from slugs, for some reason they find Delphiniums a tasty delight.  

This type Delphinium is a perennial and will return year after year.

They are a heavy feeders so side dress with compost throughout the summer.   Staking will most likely be necessary too as the heavy blooms spiking towards the sky will topple over in a wind or stiff breeze. 

In dry summer areas be sure to water regularly and deeply.

One day soon I would love to have a hedge of Delphiniums…most likely not practical but wouldn’t this be a show stopper!

Delphiniums from Dowdeswell's in New ZealandZe

 via Dowdeswells Delphiniums

This beauty is next on my list.  I don’t have any with a white bee…..yet!

Dowdeswells Delphiniums

Several shades of blue are in my collection but I am looking to add more..the pinks have caught my eye and one called Pagan Purples..and my oh my, the Lilac Ladies are dreamy!  I wish I could order them all.

Mixed Delphiniums

I tried sowing in containers in my greenhouse this past season without first pre-sprouting and it worked very well.  My greenhouse has no supplementary heat, the delphiniums get the chill they need and start to sprout if sown at the optimum time.  That would depend on your location.

Update: I winter sowed my seeds this year, you can see how I did that here, just press!

I have not had success direct sowing in the ground yet. That may be because of the wild Springs we have.  It can be freezing cold one day and warm and mild the next then back to a deep freeze.

white delphinium,

Happy Delphinium Planting!

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Thursday 11th of March 2021

Hello! I have some pelletized pacific giants. That package has no instruction really, other than keep seeds moist till germinated. Can I put the seeds in a damp coffee filter and bag if they are pelletized? Do you cold stratify yours? I read that increases the rate of germination for many people. I too would like a hedge of these. 😊 I read some put the bag in the fridge for a week. Have you tried this? I know the pelletized need moisture as they protect the seed and melt away with moisture so I’m wondering if I should just stick them in the fridge as is . Thanks


Thursday 11th of March 2021

Yes you can. Pelletized seeds are that way to make them easier to handle. I keep mine in the fridge for a week or so first to stratify and now I mostly just winter sow them instead. See my post on winter sowing:

Larry Max

Monday 6th of April 2020

Well, thanks to you they sprouted! Give or take ten seeds each Centurian and Delphina. I hav taken them from between the coffe filters and placed each seed in it's own container of commercial seed starter

Now what? In a cool dark place? In a sunny window sill? Covered with plastic until they pop up? I'm guessing, but until I hear otherwise-

Uncovered, in a cool dark place, moist , temp mid 60's Many thanks. Max

Many thanks. Max


Tuesday 7th of April 2020

A bright location is the best but not too hot. They like between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. No need to cover with plastic just be sure the surface does not dry out. As soon as they sprout make sure they get very bright light or they will become elongated and weak. I am so glad this worked for you.

Alice Benson

Thursday 19th of March 2020

Thank you for posting how to grow delphiniums. I had tried before unsuccessfully. Your method worked! My garden is fairly close to the road and when they bloomed every day people were stopping and staring at the flowers. Good thing I live in the country otherwise there would’ve been car accidents! They self seeded also. Thank you! Alice

Marla W

Wednesday 18th of March 2020

Does anyone have experience with Delph’s and deer? I live where many deer roam on my property and I try to only plant deer resistant plants, the ones they don’t like to consume!!!


Thursday 19th of March 2020

In my area, New York state, the deer love delphiniums. I spray the plants with deer repellant. (I use “Bobbex”.)


Wednesday 18th of March 2020

I have deer and so far I haven't had any issues but I do use a deer repellent when I see some have been in my garden. I get the one that is peppermint oil based. It works well.


Tuesday 12th of November 2019

Hi Pamela, I wanted to thank your for wonderful instructions on growing delphiniums. I have never been successful until I tried your method. I only had about eight plants that survived my transplanting them into the garden but they were magnificent. People were stopping on the road to look at them all summer long. They have seeded themselves profusely all around the existing plants. Hoping they will survive the winter here in New York! Thanks again! Alice


Tuesday 12th of November 2019

Delphiniums love the cold and actually thrive in Alaska so I think you are safe. I am so glad that you were able to get them to grow. Aren't they so worth it?

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