From my garden journal: Bicolor Monkshood

Molineux(6b)July 13, 2005

Bicolor Monkshood

(Aconitum x cammarum, var. Eleanor & Stainless Steel)

Eleanor is a very beautiful Monkshood with small, helmet shaped, ghostly white blooms tipped in navy blue. Unfortunately these flowers appear in clusters all along a tall threadlike stem that isnÂt strong enough to support their weight. Thusly staking is mandatory, something that is hard to do because it is difficult to find stakes long enough for the 5-6 foot stems.

Stainless Steel is closely related to Eleanor but is a superior plant. The 2-3 foot flower stalks are thicker so staking isnÂt necessary. The powder blue flowers arenÂt quite as striking as those on the aforementioned cultivar but are attractive in their own right. It also bloomed earlier coinciding nicely with the white foxgloves planted nearby.

It is a bit too early to tell if they will repeat bloom. Eleanor is just finishing up her first flush and Stainless Steel was killed due to soil contamination.

Of the two cultivars Stainless Steel is more satisfying. IÂll definitely try him again next year. I should mention that neither is tolerant of deep shade. They will do ok in partial to light shade but anything deeper than that and you can forget it. This surprised me because the white foxgloves I have planted in full shade performed well while the bicolor monkshood in front of it (and in less shade) has yet to get over 6 inches.

Other Names: Wolvesbane

Class: perennial

Bloom Time: early to mid summer

Exposure: full sun to light shade

Fragrance: none

Height & Spread: 5-6Â x 1-2Â; 2-3Â x 1Â

Planting Time: seeds in autumn, plants in spring

Soil: requires moist soil; hates drying out

Zones: 3-8

WARNING!!! All parts (especially the root) are deadly poisonous! Even handling it has caused sensitive individuals to become sick. Always wear gloves whenever working with any part of the plant and don't place in high traffic areas where curious children can get at it.

Folklore: A highly magical plant it was a common ingredient in witches flying ointments and was thought to cure lycanthropy. It gets the name wolvesbane from the old practice leaving out meat laced with the root to kill wolves. During the Dark Ages and following Renaissance it was illegal to grow monkshood in many European countries because of the potential threat for intrigue related murder.

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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I love monkshood, but seem to have trouble getting it established in my garden. It's not something I see in the local nurseries too often either. I started Blue Bishop from seed this winter, and it germinated quite well, enough so that I was able to share lots of it. However, the growth seems really stalled right now. Like yours, my Blue Bishop is only about 5 or 6 inches tall, both the patch in shade and the patch in sun. Go figure.

Do you have any pictures? Wasn't it you who was planning a blue garden, or looking for blue flowers awhile ago? If so, how's it going?


    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 1:22PM
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gillespiegardens(Z6 cinti ohio)

i have aconitum arendsi and it is wonderful. it was very floppy when i had in more shade but then I relocated them to a sunnier area though still partial shade. they did much better and multiply every year. i still pinch them back when they are about 3 feet tall back to about 1.5 to 2 feet tall. this delays the bloom period a few weeks but creats a denser bushier plant with sturdier stems.
i recommend that the stainless steel cultivar be pinched back in the same manner to help it behave better. i would do it with all aconitums.

"The one thing all gardeners share in common is a belief in tomorrow"

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 10:57PM
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Where can I find a supplier for these beautiful Monk's Hoods?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 5:19PM
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