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
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.
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 Fremont, 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.
Grow Delphiniums from Seeds
So do you want to know how I grow these beauties from seed? 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 (not a paper towel, the roots will penetrate it and you will have to cut them apart which is fiddly and messy), 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.
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.
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
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 these..baby delphiniums..Yay!
Pot them up into individual pots as they grow taller and stronger.
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!
This beauty is next on my list. I don’t have any with a white bee…..yet!
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.
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.
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.
Happy Delphinium Planting!