Fickleness! Most florists and Botanists believe that the meaning of the noun Larkspur is fickleness. The context is very tricky. It can refer to the change of minds and moods notable in a younger or immature person. The constant change in affections and loyalty is not a virtue and denotes a lack of integrity. In the case of the Larkspur flower, the term refers to the variety of colors of its flowers. This diversity is an amazing feature in a flowering plant. The plant comes in more than fifty varieties.
Some botanists think that the flower derives its name from the shape of its sepals. Many seed catalogs label it as the Larkspur flower due to the shape of the spurred calyx.
The common colors of the plant include:
Another very interesting feature common to all genus is its toxicity. All parts of the plant including its seeds are toxic to humans. This feature is common to another genus found throughout the Northern Hemisphere and mountains of tropical Africa. The members of this genus of Larkspur flower are toxic not only to humans but also to livestock.
In Greek Mythology
This genus known as delphinium has the origin of its name in the ancient Greek word ‘delphinion.’ The word originated due to the similarity of the shape of the flowers to dolphins.
How to Grow the Plant
The plant is grown by sowing its seeds directly into suitable soil in spring. Seasoned agriculturists do not recommend replanting it. This means that care should be taken while sowing the seeds. The reason is that the plant is going to grow and flower at the exact spot where it took seed.
The ideal spacing for the plants to grow healthy is a distance of six to eight inches between each sapling. It is suggested to plant the seeds at the surface level and then fill the soil very carefully. The soil should be firmed very gently so that the seeds can sprout easily.
Similar to growing other plants, it is very important to water the patch regularly. They should be watered deeply with care to ensure that water does not stand to avoid rotting of the roots.
Secret Tip: Providing the seeds with a cold period before planting ensures healthy plants and flowers. Refrigerating the seeds for two weeks by putting them in a zip bag is a common method. Ensure to keep the bag moisturized by adding damp perlite.
The flower beds should have excellent drainage or the roots will rot in a few days. Choose an appropriate spot in your garden. The flower beds should be prepared while the seeds are chilling in your refrigerator. Keep in mind the distance that should be maintained between each sapling and the approximate number of seeds that have to be planted. This will ensure that you have sufficient space.
The next important step is to weed the soil. Prepare the soil and mix enough fertilizer by breaking the soil at least eight inches deep. Water it and leave it for five days. The weeds will come out. Pluck out all the weeds and repeat the procedure.
Now it is time to till the soil and turn the soil. This will bring any weeds hiding underneath to the top. Do the weeding procedure once more. Now your flower bed is ready to accept nutrition.
Create perfect topsoil on the four-inch surface of your flowerbed. This is done by putting three inches of compost topped by an inch layer of wood ash. Now your garden is ready for the Larkspur flower seeds.
Secret Tip: The flowerbeds should be placed in such spots that receive maximum exposure to direct sunlight.
The Actual Planting
The ideal depth for sowing the seeds is one-fourth of an inch. A proven method is to use a rake to make a series of furrows across the flowerbed. Sprinkle the chilled seeds into the furrows and ensure to maintain a distance of 8 to 11 inches between each seed. Cover the seeds with soil and gently firm the surface.
The flowerbed should be watered immediately after planting the seeds. Spray lightly till the top inch of the soil is uniformly moist.
Secret Tip: The moist nature of the topsoil has to be maintained until the seeds germinate. The normal time for the seeds to sprout is 20 to 30 days depending upon a variety of factors. They will not germinate in temperatures above 650 F (180 C.)
Once the plants have sprouted, they can grow up to a height of six to eight feet. After the plants have grown about a foot and a half with healthy leaves, support them with stakes at least eight feet in height. Maintain a healthy moist soil while ensuring that water doesn’t stand. Adding a two-inch layer of mulch along with a small quantity of compost will help to hold moisture.
Secret Tip: The first six weeks of plant growth is extremely important to produce an abundant quantity of good larkspur flowers.
When Do the Plants Flower?
The flowering season is summer and autumn.
Keeping Pests at Bay
The common problems faced by the plants are slugs, snails, powdery mildew, and root rot. Experienced growers have suggested the below remedies:
i. Keeping the soil moist and not soggy by using soaker hoses instead of sprinklers is a good solution.
ii. Use fungicides to combat powdery mildew.
iii. Use simple traps to get rid of slugs and snails.
iv. All severely affected plants should be cut down and removed from the location.
Harvesting Larkspur Flowers
The flowers are harvested as fresh or dried depending upon the requirement. The flowers retain their color even after being dried. Care is needed to harvest dried flowers. The right indication that a flower is dry enough to be harvested is when most of the flowers on a stem are open. They should be harvested before the petals start to drop. After detaching the stems from the plant, they should be dried indoors away from direct sunlight. This process ensures that they retain their natural color.
Different Varieties of Larkspur Flowers in Demand
Only a seasoned florist will be able to differentiate between these varieties as the overall composure looks very similar. These flowers come in a wide range of colors.
Cherub: Mauve with a cream center and flowers are pale pinks.
Tiddles: Semi-double flowers which are greyish-mauve.
Sungleam: Creamy-white flowers which are strongly tinged yellow with a yellow center.
Atholl: White flowers with a black center.
Rosemary Brock: Dusky purplish-pink flowers with a dark brown center.
Foxhill Nina: Pale pink flowers with a white eye.
Bruce: Violet-purple flowers and paler towards the center.
Blue Nile: Mid-blue flowers which are white-eyed.
Blue Dawn: Pale blue flowers are tinged light purple with a dark brown center.
Min: The white flowers are semi-double and tinged violet at the edges.
Faust: Dark-eyed and deep blue-purple flowers
Collecting Seeds for Planting
The most important factor of farming or horticulture is storing seeds for the next season. Seeds harvested from the same location produce healthier plants since they have adapted to the environment, climate, water, and soil conditions.
Wait for the seed pods to turn brown. Then cut them into a bag and collect the seeds. These should be dried before putting away for storing a cool and dry spot.
Secret Tip: To maintain the serene beauty of the plants, cut a few blooms after a few weeks and dry them indoors. Then follow the procedure to collect healthy seeds for storing.
Impact of Larkspur Flowers on Livestock
The entire constitution of the larkspur plant is poisonous. Budding plants, growth, and the seeds contain the maximum concentration of toxic substances which are alkaloids.
It has been noted that horses and sheep rarely die after consuming larkspur. If one of these animals exhibit sudden physical activity after eating larkspur, chances of death are huge. The cause of death is usually neuromuscular paralysis that leads to bloating or respiratory failure.
The mortality rates of cattle that graze on larkspur growths are very high. Cattle are attracted to larkspur plants as they begin to flower. The consumption rate gains momentum during snow showers, rains, and cold fog. Larkspur plants are highly toxic during early growth when the plants are young. As the plants attain maturity the toxin levels go down drastically. This comes with a severe dilemma. Toxin levels reach their peak in the flowers and pods to maintain an unfaltering toxic level. The levels of toxicity vary according to individual genus and their locations.
Treatment for Affected Animals
Cholinergic medicines like neostigmine or physostigmine are the common medications for larkspur poisoning although there is no proven treatment. A usual technique used to treat poisoned animals is placing it on its chest or brisket. Then its head is tilted upwards to minimize bloating. Veterinarians suggest that unnecessary excitements should be avoided until all the toxins have been emptied from their bodies.