How to plant aconites

Also known as monkshoods or devil's helmets, aconites produce bold, hooded flowers held on tall spikes above rich green foliage. Delicate in apparence yet very robust, these glorious herbaceous perennial plants naturally found in European and Asian mountainous grasslands are ideal for the middle or back of the border, and are especially fabulous in the woodland or cottage garden. For added interest, try mixing with euphorbias, heleniums, rudbeckias or grasses. They make good cut flowers.

Aconites prefer to be planted in moist, fertile soil in partial shade — they will however tolerate most soil conditions and sunny sites.

Aconites are supplied in 9 cm pots. Always unpack and plant on arrival. Take care! Aconites are very poisonous and should not be eaten. Always wear gloves when handling them as they can cause skin irritation. 

Potential problems, pests and diseases:

  • Aphids: these sap-eating insects can weaken plants and spread viruses.

  • Fungal stem rot: this soil-borne fungal disease can cause the plant to wilt and its foliage to yellow. If left untreated, the host will eventually die.

  • Powdery mildews: these fungal diseases usually caused by planting in the shade or by poor air circulation can be seen in the form of white, powdery coating on the leaves. Cut off any infected material before disinfecting your scissors.

  • Verticillium wilt: this soil-dwelling fungal disease can cause the foliage to yellow, stems and branches to die back, and plants to wilt. As it spreads, dark discolourations will become visible in the wood. Destroy any infected bulbs at first sight, replace contaminated soil and disinfect your tools.
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