Larkspur is a cool weather annual in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes columbine, monkshood, and hellebore.  Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, plants grow 18-36″ tall depending on the cultivar, and have erect  hallow stems that branched in the upper parts only.  The palmate leaves are finely divided, the lower ones with long petioles while the upper ones are sessile.  In late spring into summer racemes of blue, pink, or white flowers appear, first at the tips of the stems later from the upper leaf axils.  Each flower consists of 4 reduced petals and 5 showy petal-like sepals, one of which forms a long nectary spur. The bloom period is long where summers are cool but only 2 months where summers are hot.  Plants tend to self-seed and are a good choice for a cottage garden.   Many cultivars are available that vary most significantly in color, height, flowering time.  Semi double and double forms are available. Flowers are excellent in both fresh and dried arrangements.   All parts of the plant are considered poisonous.  The genus name, Consolida, comes from the Latin word consolido meaning make firm and refers to the purported wound healing properties.  The specific epithet, ajacis, honors the Trojan hero Ajax because the markings on the flowers are thought to resemble the Greek letter AIAI.

Type: Annual

Bloom: Racemes of blue, white, pink spurred flowers starting in spring

Size: 18-36″ H x 12-18″

Light: Full sun with light afternoon shade in the South

Soil: Fertile, consistently moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Not hardy but seeds need a cold period to germinate well.

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: Powdery mildew, fusarium wilt

Propagation: Seed

Companion Plants: Roses, alliums, iris

Outstanding Selections:

‘Blue Bell’ (mid blue; old favorite)

‘Carmine King’ (carmine rose flowers, 3-4′ tall)

‘Dwarf Hyacinth’ (mixed colors,2’tall)

Giant Imperial Series (double flowers, several colors, 3-4′ tall)

‘Earlibird; (early blooming, 2’ tall)

By Karen