Larkspur planting time
This started out to be about blue, and how plants that are far apart in most ways may be mighty similar in the color department.
But then the larkspurs took over, because – at least in the north – they’re a real low fuss delight (unlike some flowers we could name). Larkspurs are so closely related to delphiniums they used to be in the same species, but this airy member of the family almost never needs staking.* Also unlike delphiniums, larkspurs are seldom bothered by slugs and snails. Plus they don’t dwindle and die out on you after a couple of years. Plant just once and have them forever.
Sort of. Old fashioned larkspurs (Consolida ambigua, aka C. ajacis) are forever because they’re reliable self-seeders. But they do cross with wild abandon, so we never know exactly what color they’ll be when they start blooming – all over the NY vegetable garden - in early spring.
Usually, they’re blue
They can also be pink
And while variegated effects are not common, they aren’t particularly rare.
The New York team peters out about when the tomatoes start sizing up. In Maine, they’re around for most of the summer. I’m just now yanking up spent plants, waving them around like foxgloves to spread the seed.
With larkspurs, the fresher the seed, the greater the success, and in all but the very coldest climates they do fine when planted in the fall. (Bargain seed packs purchased at the end of the growing season should be planted before the ground freezes.)
Full sun and well drained soil that’s fertile but not too rich are about the only requirements, if you don’t count sowing them where they can find open ground. Larkspurs are weak competitors.
As for the “larkspur” part – also knight’s spur, lark’s claw, lark’s toe and lark’s heel (do we see a pattern here?) – it’s true.
Larks have a long hind claw, which is indeed called to mind by the pointed upper sepal of the flower. Bees with long tongues do most of the pollinating.
*The tall double larkspurs sold for cutting, the ones almost as tightly bunched as delphiniums, DO need staking.