Here is more about what we do. If you accidentally expose your skin around this plant, wash with soap and water immediately. Monkshood are wonderful old-fashioned perennials, perfectly suited for large border plantings. The flower stalks take the form of upright spikes that grow above the foliage. It will take two to three years for the plants to mature from divisions. These ingredients might have been selected to balance out each other's poisonousness. Although this species may seem as if it’s out to get you, it is much more likely that it evolved toxins to protect itself from being eaten by animals. Depending on the variety, monkshood blooms any time between mid-summer and late summer with magnificent 2- to 5-foot-tall spires of deep purple or blue helmet-shaped flowers. She holds a BS in agriculture from Cornell University, and an MS from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. You should immediately remove and destroy infected plants to prevent further spread. The plant's handsome, glossy green foliage emerges quite early in the spring. How to grow: Monkshood. Don’t let the soil dry out completely between waterings, and you will be rewarded with stunning blooms. This species would fit well into one of those rare gardens designed entirely around poisonous plants. You can purchase the beneficial wasp Diglyphus isaea that homes in on the leaf miners and lays hundreds of eggs a year. This plant produces the alkaloid aconitine, along with a number of other toxins. The blooming season is mid- late summer and into fall. The roots and seeds are especially toxic- in case you need another reason to avoid transplanting. Even when the plants are established, do not let the soil dry out completely between waterings. Use pruning shears to cut back the stems to lateral buds after the first flush of bloom is finished. Noteworthy Characteristics. It makes astilbe winter care a little easier, and all new growth will come back to replace it in the spring. This cultivar grows taller and blooms later than most species of Aconitum. Florists also use the long, elegant stems as a cut flower in arrangements. It has been reported to grow in Zones 9 and 10. When handling monkshood, take care to keep plant away from open wounds and be certain to wash hands thoroughly. It adds a lovely shade of deep purple and blue to a fall garden. Over the centuries, the toxicity of azure monkshood has been part of its allure. If you see signs of this disease, immediately remove affected leaves and destroy them. This late-flowering selection has incredible, tall spikes of deep violet-blue, hooded flowers, a total surprise when they appear in mid-autumn. After the plant’s first blooms are finished, you can cut back the spent flowers to encourage a second (although less intense) late season bloom. It performs well at the back of borders, providing height and textural interest. If you are setting out nursery starts, plant to the same depth as the nursery containers. Sow Monkshood seeds directly in the garden in late fall and early winter. Put on gardening gloves before working with monkshood, because all parts of this plant, including the roots, are poisonous. Soak the root ball in water overnight before planting. Always wash hands thoroughly after contact and avoid eating, drinking and smoking until you’ve done so. Also called wolf’s bane, this plant’s name comes from Latin aconitum which means poison. Stems may need to be staked in summer. GARDENER'S PATH® IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF ASK THE EXPERTS LLC. The larkspur leaf miner is a type of small fly that lays eggs inside the leaves several times a year. This process of adaptation is called coevolution. Along with the common blue color, you can find monkshood in pink, white, and sometimes even yellow. As garden plants, they are used primarily in the back of the border. However, the seeds can take as long as two years to germinate and may have a very low germination rate. Commonly found in moist pastures and moist mountainous areas of Europe and Asia. Some species are cultivated as ornamental plants, and several are used in traditional medicine. Conduct a soil test to determine the acidity and other qualities of the soil in your garden. If you harvest seeds from existing plants and will not be sowing them immediately, you should store them in moist vermiculite. Unlike the other cultivars of this species, its leaves have a deep red tint in the spring. Water deeply, rather than giving frequent, smaller drinks of water – and don’t allow the soil to become waterlogged. Helga then returned to Cornell to obtain a PhD, studying one of the model systems of plant defense. Before you transplant divisions or nursery starts, carefully prepare the soil and amend with organic matter. According to Cornell University ( you should cut Monkshood back by half when it reaches 18" tall. Divine blue flowers are rare in the fall garden, but have we got a showstopper for you! While numerous cultivars are available, two in particular stand out. Those planted in full sun locations will require more water. ... An example of a proper cut on a rosebush. Azure monkshood prefers part shade but will grow in full sun, particularly in colder areas. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Fascinated by the childhood discovery that plants make chemicals to defend themselves, Helga embarked on further academic study and obtained two degrees, studying plant diseases as a plant pathology major. It is not an easy endeavor, unless you plant the seeds very soon after harvesting them. Dark green leaves are deeply divided into 5-7 toothed lobes. Azure monkshood is a perennial flower with stunning purple-blue blooms and entrancing foliage, perfect for adding interest to a fall garden. We were careful to wear gloves and long pants etc. Removing all of the plant material at the end of the season and destroying it can help to reduce their numbers during the next growing season. June is the ideal time for cutting these back. They may be grown in full sun or part shade. Now that she lives near Santa Barbara, California, she is delighted that many of these grow right outside! This will encourage a second round of blooms in the same season. While azure monkshood is grown for its flowers, its dark green, toothed foliage is also attractive and unlike anything else in a fall garden. The monkshood family of plants (Aconitum spp.) After it has finished flowering, you can also cut azure monkshood back by half to encourage the production of more flowers. All parts of this plant is poisonous, especially the bulbous roots, and should be planted with caution, especially near vegetable gardens and where children play. If you want to sow seeds in the spring, put them in water or moist soil and then freeze them for three weeks – this is a process known as cold stratification. Nature is anything but benign, and the natural world is rife with potentially fatal toxins in plants, fungi, and other forms of life. Monkshood Aconite. Design tips: Pair monkshood with other moist, shade lovers like astilbe, hosta, heuchera, and hellebores. Choose a permanent site to avoid transplanting later. ... Aconitums are prized as cut flowers, although you should avoid too much contact with bare skin because the plant is poisonous and can cause allergies. Hello, My mom and I recently removed some monkshood plants from the yard. This results in blotches on the leaves, and a heavy infestation can cause significant damage. One of the tallest cultivars, the amethyst blue-flowered Aconitum henryi “Spark’s Variety,” reaches over 5 feet tall if staked, but otherwise tends to vine and can even be trained to a trellis. This perennial is suitable for gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8, and possibly as far north as Zone 2. At the end of the season, remove the stems and cover with four to six inches of mulch. Eventually, the flowers will dry on the stalks but should stay in place.
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