A profile of Consolida regalis
Story by Denise Pugh
As a young gardener with a blank slate for a garden, I was introduced to larkspur (Consolida regalis). My neighbor was a seasoned gardener and grew these lovely plants. She allowed me to gather a bouquet, and my only disappointment was learning that the seeds had been sown the previous fall. Since all gardeners know that the joy is in the journey, I marked my calendar to sow seeds the following fall, and I have since enjoyed larkspur every spring since.
Larkspur is native to the Mediterranean, but it has naturalized throughout the United States. In the South, the seeds should be sown in the fall since the optimal soil temperature for germination is 50-60 F. Choose a site in full sun with excellent drainage. I scatter the seeds across the prepared bed and then walk across the bed to ensure good soil-to-seed contact, but make sure they are not sown too deeply. The only disadvantage to this method is that you will need to thin the seedlings in the spring to 6-8 inches apart. Failure to thin will result in tall but spindly plants (spoken from experience).
The flowers (most commonly blue) are held on spike-like racemes and are a lovely addition to spring floral arrangements. Harvest the stems when the first flower opens on the bottom of the stem. More shoots will develop. Larkspur will often re-seed if a few flowers are allowed to mature, but I sow fresh seeds each fall since I don’t want to take a chance. Keep an eye on the seed racks at your local nursery and buy some larkspur for spring blooms.
Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: Larkspur
Botanical Name: Consolida regalis
Type: Cool weather annual (self-sows)
Zones: Winter hardy to Zone 6
Height: 3-4 feet
Bloom time: April to July
Flower color: Blue, white, pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium/average – will not tolerate wet feet.
Propagation: Grows easily from seed sown in the fall
In the Landscape: Larkspur is an excellent transition plant from spring-blooming bulbs to summer-blooming perennials and mixes well with Iris, peony (Paeonia spp.) and rose campion (Lychnis coronaria). Larkspur attracts hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators.