larkspursThese delicate blossom-encircled flower spikes add linear beauty to gardeny and wildflower-inspired designs.

family matters
Larkspurs were, in the past, classified as a species in the genus Delphinium, but today they constitute a genus of their own, Consolida (con-SAW-li-da).

Like Delphiniums, larkspurs are members of the Ranunculaceae(buttercup/crowfoot) family and are closely related to Aconitum (monkshood), Anemone, Aquilegia(columbine), Clematis, Helleborus, Nigella, Ranunculus (buttercup) and, of course, Delphinium.

close examination
Larkspur florets, which are often doubles, are about 1/2 inch wide; are cup-shaped, with a nectar spur at the back (giving rise to the common name “larkspur”); and occur on short stems in spike-shaped clusters. As cut flowers, stems range from about 2 to 3 feet long and are frequently branched. Foliage is delicate, feathery and fernlike.

color scheme
Larkspurs’ natural hues include white, light pink, dark pink, lilac, lavender and purple.

spring, summer and all
These flowers are available year-round from a combination of domestic and foreign growers; however, supplies are greatest from May through September.

best buys
Purchase larkspurs that have two to four blossoms open per stem. Avoid those that show signs of petal drop, especially on the lower portion of the bloom spikes; bruising; mold; or discolored (gray or yellow) foliage. Also, inspect the stems for thickness, sturdiness and broken tips.

five and dime
Larkspurs are packaged in bunches of five or 10 stems. Check stem counts to ensure value and to be certain you have enough product when specific quantities are needed.

issues with ethyl
Larkspurs are highly sensitive to ethylene gas, which causes rapid flower shattering, so make sure your purchases are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower level or during shipping. In addition, keep them away from sources of ethylene in your shop such as decaying flowers and foliage, automobile exhaust, tobacco smoke and fruit.

health care
Unpack larkspurs immediately upon arrival in your store, and check flower quality. Next, remove lower foliage that will fall below the water line, and rinse stems to remove dirt and debris. Then recut stems with a clean, sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of stem. Immediately after cutting, dip or place the stems into a hydration solution to help the flowers take up water more quickly, then place them into a sterile storage container partially filled with properly prepared flower-food solution.

cool down
Immediately after processing larkspurs, place them into a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F for at least two hours before arranging or selling them. Except for design time, keep these flowers refrigerated until they’re sold or delivered.

maintenance plan
Check water level in containers daily, and add flower-food solution as needed. Change the vase water and recut the stems every other day or so, to ensure effective water uptake. Remove flowers and foliage as they fade.

facts of life
Larkspurs should last four to 12 days at the consumer level, depending on variety, care and stage of maturity at the time of sale.

splint broken stems
If a stem becomes bent or collapses, insert a wire or chenille stem to repair it. No wilting will occur if a stem has not been punctured or severed.

high and dry
Larkspurs can be air dried by hanging them upside down in a well-ventilated area at 70 F to 80 F for two to four weeks. To soften dried larkspurs and reduce breakage, place them into a floral refrigerator for 24 hours before designing with them.

how irritating
Larkspurs can be toxic to humans and animals. Contact can cause skin irritation, and ingestion can cause inflammation of the mouth, lips and tongue followed by numbness as well as stomach disorders. Communicate this to buyers with small children and pets.