Blue, bright blue, lilac, white, pastel lilac, pink airy brushes of flowers, rising like candles above human height – these are delphiniums, one of the best garden perennials. Gardeners had plenty to choose from: there are more than 400 wild species of delphiniums in the northern hemisphere with a wide variety of flower colors, and each of them is beautiful. The most common color for delphiniums is blue or purple. The blue miracle of gardens, the king of blue flowers – this is how delphiniums are characterized in horticultural literature.
Delphinium is the Latin name of the plant, it was it that was fixed in floriculture. The name is due to the fact that the shape of the flower buds resembles the body of a gray dolphin that lives off the coast of Greece. The Russian name for this plant is spur or larkspur. Gardeners in Vienna already in the 16th century bred a tall delphinium, growing in forest glades and meadows of the Urals and Siberia. With the participation of this species, the first garden hybrids were obtained in 1837. All perennial hybrid delphiniums are united by one name – the cultural delphinium.
Delphiniums are poisonous. Like many poisonous plants, they provide valuable medicines and were widely used in Mongolian and Tibetan medicine. In delphiniums, substances were found similar in their properties to curare – the arrow poison of the Indians of South America. Drugs like curare – they are called muscle relaxants – are valued in surgery, they relax the muscles of the operated person. To obtain them, some types of delphiniums serve as the source material. Of course, garden delphinium juice is not curare, but you need to be more careful with it, especially for children.
Delphiniums support the glory of expensive Persian carpets. For a long time in Iran and Afghanistan, an excellent blue dye was obtained from them for dyeing wool. The Indians of North America decorated their altars with blue flower powder.
Varieties of delphiniums
Modern varieties of delphiniums are mostly tall plants, up to 2 m tall. Half of this height is a flower brush, which can have up to a hundred or even more flowers. There are varieties with simple flowers, there are double, semi-double, all of them are unusually good. The calyx of the flowers can be dark blue, and the color of the petals can be lighter, which makes the flower very elegant.
For many years, N. I. Malyutin was engaged in the selection of delphiniums in our country. His variety Daughter of Winter was obtained back in 1951, and Lavender Obelisk, Caravan, Memory of Cranes date back to 1970. He owns spectacular semi-double varieties Blue Lace, purple with a black eye Morpheus, lilac-pink Pink Sunset, Lilac Spiral. Delphiniums bred by N.I. Malyutin are called Marfin hybrids. Unfortunately, the distribution of domestic varieties in those years was practically absent in our country. And we know these varieties mainly from illustrations.
The Pacific hybrids, bred in California by Frank Reinelt, are widely used in the world. The Reinelt series includes 12 varieties, which are remarkable in that they retain their decorative qualities when sown with seeds. This article is illustrated with photographs of specifically Pacific hybrids. They are sold under the name Pacific Giants Mixed, which can be translated as a mixture of Pacific giants. Among them are dark purple with a white eye King Arthur, white Galahed, dark blue with a black eye Blue Jay, dark purple with a black eye Black Knight, light blue Blue Bird and others. These two-meter giants need to be tied to a support so that strong winds or rain do not break the heavy stems. Now low-growing, about a meter tall, wind-resistant hybrids have been obtained, for example, Blue Fountains (Blue Fountains).
By 2000, the Thompson & Morgan firm had implemented its own breeding programs under the motto Flower of the Year 2000. Among the wonderful new products and delphiniums, called New Zealand hybrids. They were obtained as a result of complex crosses and selection, which lasted 11 years. These are forms with a blue color of various shades, soft pink and pure white, which retain it when propagated by seeds. They are resistant to powdery mildew and blackleg.
A little about growing delphiniums. A little, because these flowers are unpretentious, they are easy to grow. If you want to grow delphiniums from seeds, it is best to sow them in March, they will bloom in August. You can sow directly into the ground, in May, then they will bloom the next year. It should be noted: the seeds of New Zealand hybrids are advised to stratify within 3 weeks. The composition of the soil mixture is turf land plus peat or humus. When the delphiniums grow, they can be propagated by cuttings, breaking them out at the root neck with a heel. They will take root well in wet sand in 2-3 weeks, during which time they need to be shaded from the sun. 3-4 – summer bushes can be propagated by division. The soil should be permeable to water, loose and rich: add humus, peat, a handful of ash to a planting hole about 50 cm deep, a tablespoon of mineral fertilizers and mix everything well. Delphinium plants are large, grow quickly, so they are planted 50-60 cm from one another. Good luck to you!