Sunday, October 17, 2010


ACONITUM, or MONKSHOOD, are one of my last perennials to bloom.  They are very striking, adding rich blues and purples to your garden in late summer, well into fall.  They are long-lived, and once you plant them, can be left undisturbed for many years.  Another common name used for them is WOLFSBANE, which, to me, sounds a little sinister.  It gets this name because it was used in days gone by to poison wolves.  All parts of the plant is poisonous, so plant it at the back of the bed (which you'd do anyway, because it reaches 5-6 feet tall), and away from pets or children.  Wear gloves when handling it--the leaves, roots, flowers, and seeds are all quite poisonous.  They form clumps, increasing slowing annually.  They have erect, branched spikes of deep blue, purple, or blue and white.  There are also varieties of white and yellow, as well, although not as common.  I love the attractive, deeply cut foliage, which is beautiful all year long, until it loses its leaves in late fall.   They like dappled shade, in rich soil.  They like to be kept evenly moist, and if allowed to dry out, their leaves turn black and curl.  They  may need to be staked, although mine are about 6-7 feet tall and I don't need to stake it; it will depend on your soil.  They emerge late in spring, and so you need to mark them.  Their crowns can be damaged if you accidentally dig into one.  Their large, fleshy, tuber-like roots are easily broken, as well as their brittle stems.  Choose a site that is protected from wind and rain to prevent breakage. However, they are very easy to transplant, and need little or no extra care through the season.  Their seeds are very hard to germinate, and so division is the best way for propagation.  If you look at them from the side, the blooms resemble the hood of a monks robes, with a little head in.  I enjoy the monkshood for their bloom season and their rich color.
Susanne Holland Spicker Mother, Grandmother, Homemaker, Gardener, Teacher, Photographer

Passion is defined as the love of, or the object(s) of affection and emotion. I am passionate about family, friends, flowers, food, photography and fabulous music! This blog is dedicated to those loves.

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