Poppies and Larkspur

Lisa_H OK(7)March 7, 2013

Dawn, I just remembered you asked me about my poppies and larkspur. I have ONE larkspur and no poppies :( I messed around with my back bed in the fall and I probably hoed up/mulched a bunch of the larkspur seedlings, but honestly, I have a tough time with anything that is supposed to "reseed abundantly".

I'm trying to reshape that bed into something less wild than I have let it be! I added a chaste bush back there that I hope will grow up and take up some space. It is supposed to be the bush form instead of the tree. I bought a tree form too, but I planted it closer to the corner of my yard. Last year with the drought I was deciding I'd rather have big items with some longer blooms. We'll see how I like it :)


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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Lisa, Oh man, I bet you'll miss the larkspur. I have them up in all sizes...some almost full-size and others just now popping up. I do have to dig up one area that has a lot of them in it because that soil really needs improving, so this week I've been transplanting as many of them out of there as I can so I can rototill that area today. The poppies had been slower to emerge, but in some of the beds with better soil, they came out earlier and are almost full-sized already, which is odd for this early in the year. Now the tiny ones are popping up in the area with the worst soil, which is why it isn't rototilled and amended yet. I keep digging out new poppy sprouts and moving them to where the big larkspur plants are. I have to rototill it this morning before the rain gets here, so the ones I've moved may be all the ones we'll have this year. I have new larkspur seed to plant, but may wait and sow it next year in the area I'll be amending today. I have been away from home with the VFD several days this week and it has messed up all my plans for getting a lot of garden work done before the rain arrives.

The poppies in the pasture down by the driveway, bar ditch, mailbox etc. have just barely begun to emerge, no larkspur has shown up there at all but there's twice as many bluebonnet plants as usual.

Is your chaste bush different, biologically, from the normal chaste tree....like it has been bred or selected to stay bushy or is this a case where you just cut it back to the ground every winter so it stays shorter and bushier? I love my chase tree and wish I had 15 or 20 more scattered around. One of these days, I will plant more.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:44AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

The tags said they were supposed to be different :) We'll see! I think I still have the tag on the one that is supposed to be a bush form, or at least shorter than the other one. I'm growing it under my electric lines and I didn't want it growing up close to it. I'll see if I can get a name off of it.

I paid a fortune for one of them last year and then found the one I was really looking for at Home Depot, for $17.00. I wasn't too happy, but then I remembered that I loved them :)


    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 11:35AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

It is "Shoal Creek" and says it is supposed to be 12 x 12. :)

Hmmm...well, perhaps it is supposed to cut back every year if I want to maintain the smaller size. *sigh* :)

Shoal Creek' is a chaste tree cultivar that is typically grown in warm winter climates as a vase-shaped, deciduous shrub (to 10-15' tall) or sometimes trained as a single trunk tree. In cold winter areas in USDA Zones 5 and 6, it is more often cut back each year and grown as a 4-7' tall woody perennial shrub. Features aromatic, compound, palmate, grayish-green leaves with 5-7 lance-shaped leaflets (each leaflet to 6" long) and tiny, fragrant lilac flowers appearing in loose panicles (to 12" long) throughout the summer. Flowers are quite attractive to butterflies and bees.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shoal Creek

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 6:13PM
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okiegardener(z7 OK)

I got some larkspur in a wild flower seed pack a few years ago and they did well in my heavy red clay soil, but have been choked out by grass. I bought some new seeds this year and would like to start them in pots, either indoors or on my front porch (south facing), then transplant later. I know wild flowers don't transplant well, but apparently you guys have some success with them. Would they possibly bloom this year?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I am not laughing, but I am grinning.....

Somehow, I think your 'Shoal Creek' will be the exact same as the chaste tree you had growing the last time I was at your house. The description of the need to cut it back to maintain the smaller size just reeks of, um....business as usual with any chaste tree.

It drives me crazy when they try to present a "new" or "different" variety of a widely-grown plant and we cannot find any way in which it actually is new or different. Maybe, though, when you grow it and can compare it to the chaste tree you already have, you'll see some sort of difference.

Let me know what you think of it after you've watched it grow this season.

okiegardener, Honestly, I think you could broadcast sow larkspur seed on concrete and it would sprout and grow. This is one of my favorite kinds of flowers----they won't die, you cannot kill them and they readily reseed and come back every year.

Well, Lisa may have destroyed hers, but only because she dug up or disturbed the seedlings in the fall. : )

Larkspur will germinate and grow pretty quickly when the soil temperature is in the 50-60 degree range. From new seed, it blooms maybe 50 or 60 days after it sprouts. I think fall sowing is better because you'll get flowers earlier in spring, but if you were to broadcast seed now in the area where you want the plants to grow, then the seeds would germinate in 2 to 4 weeks. So, you'd likely have blooms by the end of May. As long as you keep them well-watered (but not too wet in clay) and deadheaded, they'll bloom well until it gets too hot for them. At my house that is sometime in June or July.

The only trouble I've ever had with larkspur in unimproved clay is when we have had tremendously heavy rainfall (12" or more in one day to one month) and in those cases, the poor little plants rotted right off at the soil line.

Based on long-range forecasts, this doesn't seem like a year in which you'd have to worry about too much rain rotting the plants, even in the densest clay.

I've lived here 15 years and have grown larkspur 15 years. It generally reseeds all over the place, and some years I have to yank out and throw away a lot of seedlings.

Since you have the seeds, I'd say go for it and plant them. It would be better to direct sow, but you could plant them and transplant them. However, you'd need to transplant them while very small to avoid disturbing their roots. They can sulk if transplanted once they're big or once the weather is hot. Is there any reason that you cannot go ahead and direct sow them? To make transplanting easier, you could sow the seeds in soil-less mix in paper cups. Poke holes in the bottom for drainage. They need to be cool to sprout, so I'd put them on the porch or something unless you keep your house at 50-60 degrees max. At planting time, just plant them paper cup and all in the ground. The cup decomposes pretty quickly.

How long they'll flower this year is iffy and we have no way of knowing because we don't know how long they'll take to sprout or exactly when the temperatures will get hot enough to shut them down.

Some of the larkspurs (and poppies) in my garden have formed buds already and likely will begin blooming next week if today's "possible" thunderstorms don't dump hail on them that smashes them to smithereens.

So, yours will be a little bit behind, but not impossibly so. I usually have poppies and larkspur emerging from the ground from self-sown seed for a long period of time, roughly from February through April and sometimes even in May.

If you want to speed up the germination, soak the seed in a cup of water for 12-12 hours before you sow it.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 3:12PM
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