Do you know what your birth flower is? If you were born in July, it’s the larkspur! Larkspur flowers are stunning and unusual-looking, with blooms that gather on the end of the plant’s stalk (larkspurs are often compared in style to orchids and they’re just as complex). Larkspurs can be found in a wide range of colors, including red, pink and white, but they’re most commonly shades of purple or blue. Interested in learning more about this unique and exciting flower? Read on for a few pieces of larkspur trivia and some guidelines for growing the pretty plants:
Larkspur Goes by Other Names, Too
You may recognize the name of larkspur’s genus: delphinium. Delphinium stems from the Latin word “delphus,” which means dolphin. The name larkspur refers to the plant’s shape, which was thought to resemble both a spur and the heel of a lark. But those aren’t the only two names the flower has gone by – it’s also been called Lark’s Claw, Lark’s Heel and Knight’s Spur.
Every plant species within the delphinium genus is toxic to humans and livestock. Larkspur have long been known to be toxic to cattle, often causing ranchers to move their cattle to areas where it isn’t growing. Interestingly, the flower isn’t toxic to one animal in particular: sheep. Domestic sheep aren’t affected by the poison, and ranchers have sometimes even sent them to eat the larkspur before the cattle can.
They May Have Health Benefits
Despite their toxicity, larkspur plants have actually been used in medications to treat such ailments as intestinal worms, bug bites, fluid retention and insomnia. They’re also said to have a sedative effect, helping ease anxiety and relax the body. Still, it’s best to avoid ingesting the flowers.
Larkspur plants are very tall – they generally grow to be between 1 and 2 feet, but flourishing larkspur can grow up to 6 feet tall. For this reason, many people choose to plant them around fences so they don’t block other flowers in the garden.
How to Grow Them
When planting larkspur, you should commit to sowing seeds directly into your soil. Larkspur seedlings don’t fare as well, and transplanting larkspur from another garden (or even another spot in your own garden) isn’t recommended either. The flowers prefer full sunlight or partial shade, so choose a fairly sunny spot in your garden, and ensure the soil is rich and drains well. If you live in a cooler climate, plant larkspur in the spring, otherwise, it’s best to wait until fall.
Plant the seeds under a very thin layer of soil – they’ll need a lot of sunlight to germinate during the first week. You can simply use a rake to create 1/4-inch-deep furrows in the soil, lay the seeds about 4 inches apart, then cover them lightly. Water directly after sowing the seeds, then make sure the soil stays moist. The seeds will take anywhere from a week to a month to germinate.
How to Care for Them
Larkspur love water, but otherwise they don’t require too much maintenance. They grow best in cooler climates, which means they may suffer during the high heat of summer, but they’ll bloom quickly during the spring. You can apply some fertilizer before blooming season, but the plants won’t need much. Since larkspur grow very tall, you may find you need to stake yours as they grow and become too heavy.
Do you know someone with a July birthday? Send them a beautiful larkspur bouquet!