10 Popular Larkspur Types

Delphiniums Are Tall Perennials Perfect for Sunny Borders

Delphinium flowers in mixed colors in a border.


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Larkspur (Delphinium) is a herbaceous perennial in the buttercup family, making it a relative of common landscape plants such as Amur Adonis (Adonis amurensis), Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris), and columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).

Many types of larkspur are short-lived. This is due, in part, to their susceptibility to diseases such as botrytis blight and crown rot. To lessen the likelihood of your plants being infected by such disease, provide adequate spacing, mulch your larkspurs, and keep your garden free of debris.

It is handy that larkspurs are groundhog resistant. These pests will nibble them here and there, but the poisonous nature of the plants will kill them, so the damage will not be extensive. Nor do deer and rabbits tend to eat them. Meanwhile, they are useful for drawing butterflies and hummingbirds to the yard.

Most larkspur plants are stately perennials ideal for growing at the back of a flower border. The drawback with these is that you have to stake them. If you prefer low-maintenance landscaping, opt for dwarf types.

Their impressive height (some types reach seven feet tall), however, makes them extremely showy specimens. The taller types of larkspur are well worth growing if you do not mind performing a bit of maintenance.

This perennial most commonly bears purple, blue, or white flowers. Lavender is the next most common color. You will occasionally encounter larkspurs with pink blooms, and other colors exist but are rarer. Larkspur is valued as one of the traditional plants for cottage gardens.

Below are ten Larkspur cultivars or species that could be worth considering for your garden.

Toxicity

Larkspur is a poisonous plant. Take precautions to prevent children and pets from ingesting it.

  • 01 of 10

    Black Knight Larkspur (Delphinium 'Black Knight')

    Black Knight delphiniums

    Henry Hemming/Flickr

    The Black Knight cultivar has semi-double, purple flowers. It gets its name from the deep shade of its flower color. The blooming period is summer, and Black Knight may even rebloom in the early fall. This is one of the easiest types of larkspur to find at garden centers and home improvement stores outside of the types with blue flowers.

    • Native Area: Northern Hemisphere
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Height: 4 to 6 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 02 of 10

    Galahad Larkspur (Delphinium 'Galahad')

    White larkspur flowers.

    Kateryna Kukota/Getty Images

    Galahad is a hybrid cultivar from the Candle or Alpine Larkspur species (Delphinium elatum) and has a longer lifespan than many types of larkspur. The flowers are snow-white and really stand out against the dark green leaves of the plant. In some of the other cultivars with white flowers, the flowers have a black center. Galahad, however, provides a choice for gardeners who want pure white. It blooms in early summer to mid-summer. 

    • Native Area: Northern Hemisphere
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Height: 4 to 5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 03 of 10

    Astolat Larkspur (Delphinium Astolat Group)

    Pink delphinium flowers.

    Michel VIARD/Getty Images

    Astolat is a grouping for the popular Pacific Giant hybrids. Astolat has semi-double blossoms in a pink or lavender-pink. The blossoming period is from early summer to mid-summer.

    • Native Area: Northern Hemisphere
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 7
    • Height: 5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 04 of 10

    Guardian Lavender Larkspur (Delphinium elatum 'Guardian Lavender')

    Delphinium with lavender flowers.


    Horst Sollinger/Getty Images

    Guardian Lavender larkspur is only a moderately tall larkspur. Perhaps that is why it is an earlier bloomer than the really tall types of Delphinium, flowering in early summer. It has double flowers in the lavender-to-mauve range.

    • Native Area: Northern Hemisphere
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Height: 3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne)

    Delphinium tricorne flower closeup.

    Ed Reschke/Getty Images

    Standing at just one to two feet high, dwarf larkspur gives you a choice in Delphinium that involves less maintenance. Maintaining larkspur usually includes disease control, pruning, staking, and deadheading, but growing this shorter species allows you to skip the staking. The flowers range in color from true blue to violet-blue to purple. Its bloom time is April or May, making it an early bloomer for a larkspur.

    • Native Area: Northern Hemisphere
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Height: 1 to 2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 06 of 10

    Blue Mirror Larkspur (Delphinium 'Blue Mirror')

    Closeup of deep blue larkspur.

    Jackie Bale/Getty Images

    Blue Mirror is another dwarf larkspur cultivar, meaning you can go without staking it and still not have to worry about the stalk snapping in high winds. Although essentially a blue larkspur, a closer inspection reveals at least three colors in the blossom. The center is mainly white, while a generous dose of lavender tinges the blue on the petals. It blooms from late spring through summer.

    • Native Area: Northern Hemisphere
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Height: 12 to 18 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 07 of 10

    Cassius Larkspur (Delphinium 'Cassius')

    Delphinium 'Cassis' blue flower stalks.


    Jacky Parker Photography/Getty Images

    The flower of Cassius larkspur is similar to that of Blue Mirror, except that the center is black. But, unlike Blue Mirror, Cassius is one of the tall types of Delphinium. This D. Elatum hybrid definitely needs to be staked. The plant blossoms in mid-summer.

    • Native Area: Northern Hemisphere
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 6 to 7 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 08 of 10

    Summer Skies Larkspur (Delphinium 'Summer Skies')

    Closeup of Summer Skies larkspur.

    DebraLee Wiseberg/Getty Images

    When most gardeners think of larkspur, they think of a plant with blue flowers. As you can see, there are many choices in blue larkspurs. They differ in terms of hardiness, size, and the precise quality of the blue flower color. In the case of Summer Skies, another Pacific Giant hybrid, the flower color is a pale blue. It blossoms in mid-summer.

    • Native Area: Northern Hemisphere
    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 8
    • Height: 5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Golden Larkspur (Delphinium luteum)

    Yellow larkspur flower closeup.

    Hal Beral/Getty Images

    Gold or yellow is the rarest color for larkspur to come in. Delphinium luteum grows only in California. If you are a resident of the Golden State, be sure to enjoy this specimen as a wildflower. It is an early bloomer (March to May).

    • Native Area: California
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8a to 9b
    • Height: 2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 10 of 10

    Red Lark Larkspur (Delphinium 'Red Lark')

    Stalk of red Delphinium flowers.

    Michel VIARD/Getty Images

    Red is also an unusual color for larkspur plants, making Red Lark a great find for gardeners who seek the unusual.

    This cultivar is another that is only moderately tall and produces blooms earlier than do the statelier kinds of Delphinium.

    • Native Area: Northern Hemisphere
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Height: 2 to 3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun

The care for this genus of perennials can vary depending on the individual species or cultivar. But, as a general guide, here are some tips for the maintenance needed for larkspur plants:

  1. Give them a moist, cool, well-drained soil. The soil can be kept cool and moist by furnishing with mulch.
  2. Fertilize your larkspur plants every spring with compost.
  3. Prune off the flower stalks after the plants are done blooming in late summer or early fall.
  4. After the first hard freeze of the autumn, cut the plants down to ground level and remove the vegetation from the area. Because larkspur plants are highly susceptible to diseases, cleanliness in the garden is crucial for them, so do not let the old vegetation lie around all winter. Likewise, do not compost any plant material that you suspect has been infected with any disease.