Larkspur is one of the loveliest hardy annuals and easy to grow.
The wonderful spikey flowers are ideal for floral arrangements and, if sown now, will provide masses of blooms for cutting from the outdoor garden early next summer.
Larkspur hate having their roots disturbed, so most gardeners sow them directly into the open ground whilst the soil is moist and warm at this time of year.
About 10 days prior to sowing the seeds, scatter 1oz per square yard of fish, blood and bone meal fertiliser over the surface and rake it into the top two or three inches of soil so that the fertiliser will have started to work with the soil bacteria, which in turn will ensure a good germination.
The seeds take about three weeks to come through and as they do, millions of weeds germinate at the same time. I thought it worthwhile to mention this, because it happens to all of us!
If you look carefully, the larkspur seedlings look entirely different from the weeds. Larkspur leaves are ferny, whilst most of the weeds are quite plain.
If some of the seedlings are not successful, prick out the spares to fill the gaps and then place a few hazel twigs around the area to keep the foliage upright. This will give you are a great start as the twigs will protect the little plants through the winter.
Ah, I hear you say, I have no space in the garden for seed sowing. Well try this – the grandchildren will love to help.
Obtain some insert trays made of thin plastic from your garden centre and you will see that they fit exactly into a standard seed tray.
Choose John Innes seed compost and fill the little individual inserts to the top of each one and then pour the seeds into your hand. With finger and thumb, drop one or two seeds into each little compartment and cover the seeds with a little compost.
An icing sugar sieve is good for this.
Water with a can and rose and leave the trays in the open garden, away from cats, hedgehogs, foxes and other possible disturbances.
Keep moist all the time and again the seeds will germinate in about three weeks. This time with no weeds.
Round about the middle of October, before the roots emerge from the bottoms of the insert trays, the seedlings can be planted in a nice warm spot in the garden and, if protected with twigs, will survive the winter.
If you have a tiny garden, there are short varieties available.
But if you have the space, grow the tallest ones because these are the best ones for cut flowers.
Called the poor man’s delphiniums, larkspur will provide you with armfuls of flowers at the cheapest possible cost.
I do hope you will try some. I love them.