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Delphiniums in spring from seed sown now.

Delphiniums in spring from seed sown now If you already grow delphiniums in your garden, you can collect seeds now to start plants for next year's flowers. Harvest the tiny black seeds as soon as seed heads turn dry and start to split.

In cold-winter areas, you should harvest your seed, seal it in airtight containers, and refrigerate. Sow in spring for fall bloom. Delphiniums are reliable perennials in these climates.

In mild-winter areas, start seed now. Plants will be ready to set out in fall. By spring, expect spectacular spiky blooms. Delphiniums need winter chilling to flower year after year, so most gardeners in these areas treat them as annuals.

Choices, from giants to dwarfs. Your choices include the classic 8-footers such as the Pacific strain hybrids of D. elatum, as well as smaller varieties. The range of colors includes shades of blue, purple, mauve, and white.

Dwarf varieties include the 3-foot-tall Blue Fountains strain, which comes in the full range of delphinium colors. 'Dwarf Blue Heaven' is equally compact, and boasts sky blue flowers with white centers (called "bees"). For deep blue blooms on a small plant, try 'Blue Mirror', which stays about 15 inches tall.

Starting seeds. Sow evenly in a flat filled with a fast-draining potting mix (add some sand to potting soil). Cover with a thin layer of soil and keep evenly moist. Seeds should sprout in three to four weeks. When seedlings have at least two true leaves, they are ready to move into sixpacks or out in the garden. Before planting in the ground, set seedlings outdoors for a couple of weeks, away from wind and direct sun. Plant in a sunny spot or container with fast-draining soil.

Check a local nursery for seed, or order by mail. Three mail-order suppliers that offer a wide selection are Park Seed Co., Greenwood, S.C. 29647 (free catalog); Thompson & Morgan, Box 1308, Jackson, N.J. 08527 (free); and White Flower Farm, Litchfield, Conn. 06759 ($5).
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Aug 1, 1986
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