Delphinium 'Fanfare'
Common Name: larkspur 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 4.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Pale violet with white eyes
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 3-7 where this delphinium is best grown in fertile, humus rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Performs well in alkaline soils. Prefers climates with cool summer temperatures. Appreciates some part afternoon shade in hot summer climates. Plants often struggle in St. Louis summers, and are generally not recommended for growing in hot and humid summer climates south of USDA Zone 7. Plants require protection from strong winds and rain storms via sheltered growing positions and staking. After bloom, promptly cut back spent flower spikes to the basal foliage to encourage an additional late summer and/or fall bloom.

'Fanfare' may be grown from seed and may self-seed in the garden. Some gardeners prefer to grow this often short-lived cultivar as an annual or biennial. For growth as perennials in cold winter climates, purchase new plants in early spring or plant seed indoors 8-10 weeks prior to last spring frost date. For growth as annuals in warm winter climates, sow seed in pots in mid-summer with transplants set into the ground in October for bloom the following spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Delphinium is a genus consisting of over 300 species of annual, biennial and perennial flowering plants. Most delphiniums sold in commerce today are complex hybrids. One such hybrid grouping, commonly known as English hybrid types or Elatum Group (often designated as Delphinium x elatum), features a large number of showy cultivars which have been introduced into commerce over time in a number of different series or strains which are considered by many gardeners to contain some of the showiest of the delphiniums available in commerce today.

Genus name comes from the Greek word delphis meaning dolphin in reference to the flower bud shape of some species purportedly resembling a dolphin.

'Fanfare' is a long-stemmed perennial of the Elatum Group. It typically grows to 5-7’ tall on stems clad with divided, palmate green leaves. Mauve semi-double flowers with white eyes are densely packed into upright terminal spikes. Flowers bloom from late spring to early summer. Flower spikes must be staked in order to prevent them from leaning or falling over. After bloom, promptly cut back spent flower stems to the basal foliage to encourage an additional late summer to early fall bloom.

Elatum Group plants produce a narrow, columnar, central terminal flower spike (raceme) which is densely packed with showy, flattened, single, semi-double or double florets in colors of violet, blue, pink or white. Each central spike rises above deeply cut foliage mounds to variable heights ranging from 4-8’ tall and is surrounded by a number of smaller secondary flowering racemes (sidespikes) which develop from leaf joints below the primary bloom. Shape of throat petals in Elatum Group cultivars gives rise to the sometimes used common name of bee delphinium.


Delphiniums require considerable maintenance (staking, pruning, deadheading, disease control) in order to perform well in the garden. Delphiniums are generally susceptible to powdery mildew, botrytis blight, leaf spots and crown rot. Plants grown in full sun generally show better resistance to powdery mildew. Water plants at the base to avoid wetting the foliage. Crown rot will inevitably develop if plants are grown in poorly drained soils or planted too deep. Slugs and snails can do significant damage. Watch for aphids, leaf miners, stem borers and mites. Taller plants may need staking and appreciate being sited in locations protected from wind. Plants are considered toxic to humans if ingested.


Superb in cottage gardens. Back of beds and borders. Best in groupings or massed. Plant against a stockade fence for protection from wind. Excellent cut flower. Deer and rabbits usually do not cause problems.