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Delphinium flowers are a summertime favourite of ours due to their large stature and pretty combination of blooms, buds and tendrils. They are available in white, blue and shades of purple featuring a tall spike topped with delicate buds blooming lower down the stem first. Delphinium are easily confused with larkspur, their smaller and less showy relative.

History of delphinium

The name delphinium means ‘dolphin-shaped’ in reference to the shape of the flowers which the ancient Greeks thought resembled a dolphin’s nose. It was once used in herbal medicines but is no longer used in this manner due to its toxins.

According to Greek mythology, the delphinium originated from the blood of the Greek God Aias (Ajax) who was a Trojan war hero killed during combat. As the delphinium flowers blossomed from his blood, the petals were inscribed with letters ‘Ai’ which means ‘alas’.

Delphinium means fun, positivity, and openness to new experiences according to the language of flowers. They are used to communicate encouragement and joy making them the perfect bloom to include in floral gifts.

How to care for delphinium

Buy delphinium when the flowers on the stem are approximately one third open. Wash hands thoroughly when handling delphinium as the sap in poisonous. Trim a couple of centimetres off the end of the stems and immediately plunge into a tall vase of fresh cool water. Be sure to use very sharp scissors as to not damage the hollow stem.

Trim the stems, remove any spent blooms from lower down the stem, clean the vase and change the water every couple of days. Keep delphinium in a cool environment away from the summer heat but also clear of drafty air conditioning vents. Delphinium are sensitive to ethylene so should be kept away from fruit, cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes to ensure longevity.

How to style delphinium

Make the most of the delphinium’s stately size and style en masse in a tall vessel such as a blue and white ginger jar positioned on a dresser or large dining table. We love to include delphinium in large wedding arrangements because they are both pretty and substantially sized which isn’t always a common combination. They are the perfect statement bloom to include in English style arrangements styled in urns brimming with roses and hydrangea. Delphinium also make an ideal inclusion in a beautiful bouquet gifted to celebrate the birth of a baby boy, with a common request for this occasion being blue and white blooms.