Plant of the Month for October, 2011

Aconitum napellus (Monk's Hood) is a reliable hardy perennial, standing about a metre tall with lovely blue flowers.  It's just one of over 250 species in the genus. They do well in sun as well as part shade, but require sufficient moisture and reasonably cool soil. Feeding with a little extra phosphorus and compost will help this slow-growing plant to do its best.

A. napellus blooms throughout October in Ontario, which means that seed set is late in the fall. From time to time, it is listed in our Seedex and will germinate well provided that the seed is sown immediately. Like most of its ranunculaceae relatives, the seeds are viable for only a brief time and germinate best when sown outdoors over the winter. A few will grudgingly germinate at room temperature.  

Caution should be taken in handling all parts of the plant including the seeds. They contain chemicals which are toxic to the heart.

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Sow immediately. The viability of these seeds is short or the species propagates best with fresh seed. Stored seed might be coaxed into germination with temperature cycling and patience.

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This species needs special care as described.
20°C x 4 weeks, then -7°C x 6 weeks, then 10°C, seed very poisonous, wash hands after handling