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Ornamentals Produce Facts English

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Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality

Michael S. Reid

Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis

Maturity & Quality


Delphinium, Consolida spp. The tall spikes of delphinium and the smaller spikes of larkspur are important accent flowers, with colors ranging from white through pink, purple and blue.

Quality Indices

Delphiniums and larkspur are normally harvested with one to two open flowers on the spike. Avoid flowers with mildew-infected leaves. At least one to two flowers per stem should be fully opened at the time of purchase with no sign of flower fall. Make sure stems are rinsed prior to re-cutting and arranging, so as to remove dirt and debris.

Grading and Bunching

There are no formal grade standards for larkspur and delphinium. Flower number per spike, stem length, stem straightness, and foliage quality are important quality attributes in these flowers. Larkspurs are normally bunched by size with an average of 10 stems per bunch.

Ethylene Sensitivity

Delphiniums are very sensitive to ethylene, which causes rapid loss of all the flowers on the spike.


Flower spikes should be pretreated with 1-MCP or STS to extend their vase life and protect them from exposure to ethylene. Because flowers are on spikes and are therefore at different maturity stages at the time of anti-ethylene treatment, STS may be a more effective anti-ethylene treatment than 1-MCP.

Storage Conditions

Delphinium and larkspur should be stored at 0-1°C. For longer term storage, they should be wrapped in perforated polyethylene to reduce water loss.


These flowers are often packed in hampers with or without water, but may also be packed in standard horizontal boxes. They are somewhat sensitive to gravity, so horizontally-packed flowers should be pre-cooled and maintained at proper holding temperatures.

Special Considerations

Flowers called larkspur or delphinium often are named incorrectly.


October 2004

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The information in this fact sheet represents our best understanding of the current state of knowledge at the time of the latest update, and does not represent an exhaustive review of all research results. Links to any of these UC Postharvest Technology Center pages are permitted, but no endorsement of the linking site or products mentioned in the linking page is intended or implied by such a link.

How to Cite

Author(s) names. Initial publication or update date (located at the top). Title. Link to the specific Produce Fact Sheet webpage (Accessed date)

Example: Cantwell, M. and T. Suslow. 2002. Lettuce, Crisphead: Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality. (Accessed January 18, 2014).

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