Thursday, March 17, 2011

Starting My English Delphiniums

Not long ago I posted about getting in my English Delphinium seeds from Dowdeswells in New Zealand and I had put them in the refrigerator.  The instructions I received with the seeds told me to do so.  Many seeds do better pre-chilled but not all.  Here is what I am hoping for once they bloom!


About a week ago I took some seeds from the refrigerator to pre-germinate. I am sure you may wonder what that is.  So I shall gladly show you.

I take a regular coffee filter and wet it thoroughly.  (use coffee filters and not paper towels, the roots will penetrate paper towels and you will have to cut it apart so as not to disturb the little root)  Then I place the seeds upon the wet filter, and fold it in half.  I tuck it into a Ziploc freezer bag and place it on top 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.

new root

I fixed up a couple very small 2 oz pots for individual seeds and a larger container to put several more that looked ready to pop out a root soon.


I am testing these little pots and individual seeds.  I have, in the past, had more success planting several seeds together in a larger container and separating out the plants after they have become larger and nearly root tangled as opposed to single seeds in single pot.  For some reason the plants have been stronger and survive better.  But I wanted to give these little pots a try.  All the other seeds went into this…


There were several seeds that had not sprouted yet so I wrapped them back up into the coffee filter, put it back into the ziploc and on top of the fridge.  I will check them daily again until I see more sprouted seeds, I will head out to the greenhouse (I hope it will make it thru this next predicted snow, we still have yet to fix the roof from the last fiasco) and pot them up.   Soon I will have lots and lots of English Delphiniums to bring that gorgeous bright blue into my garden!

backyard in blue

This is my back garden when we moved back into this house after being gone for 9 months.  The larkspur had taken over and though it was rather wild it was pretty to look down upon from my back deck.  Larkspur is easy to grow from seed, is a relative of the delphinium and will spread itself quite readily, as you can see. So if you can’t grow Delphiniums give Larkspur a try. 
Until we meet again… happy planting!


 Farm Girl Friday


  1. So appreciate this post. I absolutely LOVE delphiniums and I bought a gorgeous one last year at Home Depot---it didn’t do well. I was hoping it would come up this year but it’s too early to tell. Are they biennials? Also, I’ve never grown larkspur so I am so glad you shared that--the backyard is so pretty. I am going to try my hand with it this year--or shall I say my thumb :)

  2. Thanks for the info...I can't wait to start digging around here!


  3. I guess I need to try harder. I just wait until the frost is gone and sow the seeds right into the ground. The way you do this seems like a sure fire method for germinating the seeds. I will have to try this.
    Your backyard is lovely with so many flowers. I like all the levels.

  4. How beautiful Pamela!
    I grew a blue variety in an old garden of mine years ago... I think I must have some more after seeing these beauties!

    I would LOVE to see you with this post at the Farmgirl Friday blog hop today!

  5. Delphiniums are beautiful. I have never tried to pre-germinate seeds. I thought you just planted seeds and hoped for the best. :) We just went to the plant souk today so I could bring a little life to our outdoor spaces. So many of my potted plants have not fared well this season although our winter has been mild. Hope you are having a fabulous Friday. Tammy

  6. Hi, I found you @ Farm girl Friday with Deborah Jean.. I like the pre germinate that a try this weekend. Thank you.

    I stared some garden seeds and only 1 has germinated and sprouted..they may need a little help. Have yourself a great day

    your delphiniums are gorgeous.

  7. Your flowers are gorgeous. I purchased one Delphinium last year and it didn't fair well at all. I have never heard of doing the seeds the way you did but am adding this to my gardening tab. Thanks for stopping by and posting a comment on the potatoes. I looked up that article and linked it on my site.

  8. Wow your delphiniums are so pretty!
    I'll tell ya, I've never given much thought to delphiniums until my Mom passed over 11 years ago... but here's the thing. I wanted Blue Bonnets on my mother's casket, I thought they'd make a lovely spray. Guess what? Living in TEXAS and Bluebonnets being the STATE FLOWER, we were told no. (Grieving, I didn't pursue it) So as a replacement they offered up, the delphinium... similar in growth pattern and color-- they were gorgeous.
    Now, when I see delphinium-- it makes me think of MOM and I laugh...because she used to say, she always had to settle for something different than what she had in mind; she chalked it up to having 'out of the box thinking'!

    ~ hope it didn't weird you out talking about my Mom.
    I'll visit your lovely blog again, Pat

  9. oh, I came to visit you from Deborah Jeans Farm girl blog hop!

  10. Hi Pam - thanks for the link to our site in your first paragraph - and thanks for the lovely tutorial on germinating delphinium seeds. May we link to this from our website? I'm sure it will help people to grow sturdy delphs.

    Kind regards
    Janice Dowdeswell
    Dowdeswell's Delphiniums Ltd

  11. Hi from Christchurch New Zealand. My question regards the meaning of 'on top of the refrigerator'. Is that on the outside, on top or inside on the top shelf? I tried it on the outside of the fridge and after 10 days all the seeds had sprouted, now it is snowing and I can't get out to transplant them. I wonder how long can the sprouts get before it is too late to transplant them?
    I'm looking forward to masses of delphiniums late summer!
    Cheers Fredrik at BumbleBee Cottage Christchurch NZ

  12. I also wondered about "on top of the 'fridge" as I thought it was about cooling the seeds before sprouting them. Thanks for the advice. Prince of Wales Island, Alaska

    1. I do pre-chill in the fridge before hand. when I am ready to sprout them then I put them on top of the fridge or anywhere out of the way in the baggy on the coffee filters.


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