I have always loved Consolida ambigua, more commonly known as annual delphinium and larkspur. Even though they are termed as an annual type of plant, they can reseed themselves back if you grow them in a protected area in the colder zones. I live in U.S. Department of Agriculture zone 4 and have no trouble with this lovely flower coming back every year. And it all started with harvesting the seeds from a friend of mine.
Consolida ambigua comes in a wide variety of colors and shades of pink, blue, purple and white. They start blooming in late spring and will continue through the early summer. Collecting and saving the seed is a thrifty way to save money. By doing this, you can plant the seeds around your home without worrying about wasting them. You can also share them with your family and friends without it costing you a cent.
Mark the Colors
If you have certain colors that you want to keep separate, mark the plants before the flowers fade. Some people use colored yarn to mark the plants. You can also use a one of those rectangular plastic ties that keep your produce bags closed to slip around the stem. Plastic markers with the color written on them will also work. Make sure that you use, you use permanent ink when writing the color, or your words will wash away.
Harvest the Consolida ambigua Seeds
Harvest the Consolida ambigua seeds from the plants after the flowers have faded. If your flowers bloomed in May or June, the seed pods should be ready around mid-July.
Watch and wait until the pots begin to turn brown, then cut the pod off along with a little bit of the stem. Again, if you want to keep the colors separated, take along several containers with the individual colors marked on the outside. If you want mixed colors, you can put them all into one container.
Drying the Consolida ambigua Seeds
Once you get indoors, divide the seedpods so only the bottom of the paper bag is covered. Do not stack them on top of each other or they will not dry as well. Leave the pods in the paper bag for 3 to 4 weeks. Shake the bag occasionally to redistribute the pods for even drying. The pods will open releasing the seeds.
You can also use a box or tray lined with newspaper instead of a paper sack. No matter what you use to contain the seed pods while drying, place them in a warm, dry location.
Storing the Consolida ambigua Seeds
Separate the seeds from the foreign matter. If you find any unopened seed pods, simply break them apart with your fingers.
Place the seeds into a vial, envelope, or other container for future planting. Remember to write the color and seed type on the container so you don’t forget. Store the seeds in a cool, dry location like the refrigerator, garage, or basement.
Direct sow Consolida ambigua seeds into the soil in the fall if you live in a southern climate or in the spring if you live in colder climates. To get an earlier start on blooming, you can sow the seeds indoors using peat pots.
Wilson Landscape Nursery: Larkspur (Consolida ambigua)
Thompson Morgan: Larkspur Kingsize Scarlet
“American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants”; Christopher Brickell; 2004
“National Garden Book”; Sunset Books; 1997