The Q&A Archives: Perennial Larkspur

Question: I am told that Perennial Larkspur is one of the few perennials that will flower their first year. In my area, would I need to plant seedlings or could I start from seed and still get flowers my 1st year?

Answer: Generally perennials which are reputed to bloom the first year from seed must be started very early and grown on under good conditions to produce blooms the first year -- and those blooms will not be as impressive a show as it would be on a mature plant. Black eyed Susans, purple cone flowers, and the "Foxy" strain of foxglove are good examples of this. With delphiniums, the story is a bit complex because although some varieties may bloom from seed the first year, they are somewhat touchy plants and are not always perennial. For this reason most gardeners will purchase a larger blooming size plant and enjoy it during the season. If it then survives the summer and over winters successfully so much the better. There are also annual delphiniums such as larkspur which can be seeded in fall or very early spring and will bloom the first spring, set seed and die, and smaller varieties such as the little D. chinensis which is potentially perennial but usually treated as an annual because it exhausts itself by blooming too much. So I suppose the answer to your question is "it depends".

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