Delicate Delphinium: A Complete Cut Flower Care And Handling Guide

Last Updated on September 26, 2023

Love Delphinium? Discover the secrets to keeping these beautiful blooms fresh and vibrant for longer.

blue delphinium

There are only a handful of naturally blue flowers. One of the most popular is Delphinium.

Despite the fact that Delphiniums are not the hardiest or longest-lasting flowers, with proper care and handling, delphiniums are a beautiful addition to all types of floral arrangements, from bridal bouquets to majestic vase arrangements.

Delphiniums are part of the Ranunculaceae plant family, which also includes Ranunculus, Anemones, and Larkspur (Consolida). The bloom colors range from indigo to purple, sky blue, pink, and white.

Originally native to the northern hemisphere and parts of Africa, they can now be found in gardens worldwide. Primarily thought of as a summer flower (they are the July birth flower), delphinium is available year-round.

Florists like to use cut Delphiniums, combined with other summer filler flowers, to create natural garden-style arrangements, like the summer bouquet we did below.

garden style flower arrangement with delphinium

But they can also be as sophisticated as you want them to be. Delphiniums will deliver your desired look, whether you want dark blue drama, soft white whimsy, or a contemporary floral design.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about delphinium cut flower care.

Delphinium Varieties and Colors

The following table summarizes some common delphinium varieties and the colors available for each:

VarietyColors Available
Delphinium BelladonnaDark Blue, Light Blue, White
Delphinium ElatumPurple, Dark Blue, Lavender, Light Blue, White
Delphinium HybridBlue, Dark Blue, Lavender, Light Blue, Peach, Purple, White
Delphinium Sea WaltzDark Blue
Delphinium Sky WaltzLight Blue
Delphinium VolkerfriedenDark Blue
Delphinium WaltzDark Blue, Light Blue

The delphinium varieties have some key differences:

  • Delphinium Belladonna are known for their dainty, slender spikes and loosely arranged florets. They have an airy, delicate look, much like wildflowers, and can be used in different floral designs, from everyday arrangements to wedding bouquets.
  • Delphinium Elatum has dense, pyramidal flower spikes on tall (36 – 60 inches), sturdy stems. Their florets are densely packed, making them a great choice for large, statement floral designs.
  • Delphinium Hybrids exhibit qualities from both Belladonna and Elatum types. They combine the grace of the Belladonna with the boldness of Elatum. The flower spikes are medium to tall (24 – 60 inches, depending on the type). The florets are full but not overly dense.
  • The Waltz and Volkerfrieden varieties are hybrids bred for uniform bloom size and flower color, like deep blue or light blue. They are my favorites for most types of floral work

In a nutshell, the Belladonna types are more delicate looking, Elatum has bolder, densely-packed flower spikes, and the Hybrids strike a balance between the two while offering more color options.

The specially bred hybrids, like Waltz and Volkerfrieden, offer uniform stems and flower colors.

delphinium varieties

Choosing Delphinium: What To Look For

When buying Delphinium, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, remember that the flowers on the spikes open from the bottom up. Look for bunches with two or three lower flowers open and some closed flower buds at the top.

Delphinium is extremely ethylene-sensitive, much more so than most other flowers. It’s one of the reasons you don’t often see them sold in supermarket floral departments unless they can be safely stored away from other produce.

Most commercial flower growers that supply retail and wholesale florists treat delphinium with an ethylene action inhibitor, but others may not.

While it’s not something you should obsess over, if you notice any stems with shattered flowers, avoid purchasing them. Shattered flowers are a sign of ethylene exposure or that the flowers have been stored too long.

Basic Delphinium Care: How To Condition And Care For Cut Delphinium

When your delphinium arrives, start by filling a bucket with clean water and commercial fresh flower food, mixed according to directions. I suggest using plastic buckets and avoiding metal or galvanized ones if possible.

delphinium bunches

When unpacking Delphinium, gently separate the stems to prevent damage. Cut about 1” off the stems using a clean, sanitized floral knife or clippers, and treat with FloraLife® Quick Dip to allow for maximum water uptake before placing the stems into your bucket.

Also, be sure to remove all foliage below the water level.

Allow at least 2 hours for the delphinium to fully hydrate. We usually give them 3 to 4 hours in our shop before using them.

Delphiniums love cool temps (35-40°F) and high humidity. But if you don’t have a commercial flower cooler, keep your delphinium in the coolest space possible and out of direct sunlight.

The average vase life of delphinium ranges between 4 and 12 days, so chances are that if you use them for an event and purchase them from a reputable floral source, they will hold up just fine for the duration of the event.

Recut the stems and change the water daily to ensure the longest vase life. Add commercial floral food to the water as directed. This is important to inhibit ethylene effects.

Designing With Delphimium

Delphinium stems can be used in all types of floral design work, including everyday arrangements, as well as sympathy, wedding, and special event work. Individual florets can be used in wedding bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, and other wearable floral designs.

One caveat: Do not use delphinium as a garnish or to decorate any edible food items, like a wedding cake, for example, as they can be toxic. According to the ASPCA, delphinium may be toxic to some pets as well

Final Thoughts

So why not enjoy the beauty of delphiniums? Despite their delicate nature, with proper Delphinium care and handling, their dramatic flower spikes will help you create stunning bouquets and show-stopping floral arrangements in color palettes ranging from dramatic dark blues to delicate whites.

Following these practical Delphinium care tips ensures your gorgeous cut flowers maintain their beauty and make your event one to remember.

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Til next time,

Greg Johnson
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