Aconite: [Cultivation, Irrigation, Care, Pests and Diseases]

Aconite is a plant native to the Eurasian mountains. In some countries it is planted as an ornamental plant due to its lush flowering and beauty.

However, its cultivation or any type of home use is generally discouraged.It is a very poisonous plant, the most toxic in Europe.

It contains aconitine, an alkaloid that can slow down the heart and 1 milligram is enough to kill an 80-kilogram adult due to its strong cardiotoxic and neurotoxic effect.

Important points when sowing aconite

  • Scientific name: Aconitum napellus.
  • Common name: Matalobos, amapelo, napelo, anapelo, vedegambre, Jupiter’s helmet, anapelo de flor azul.
  • Height: 1.5 meters.
  • Light Need: Full sun and shade.
  • Temperature: Temperate and cold climates.
  • Irrigation: Frequent.
  • Fertilizer: Organic fertilizer.

What characteristics does aconite have?

Aconite is a perennial herbaceous plant, with a simple stem and annual, which can measure 1.5 meters in height. It has a turnip-shaped root, which dies at the end of fruiting. However, the plant survives due to adventitious roots that sprout from the stems.

Aconite leaves are alternate, palm-shaped, divided into long, irregularly shaped strips, called laciniae, 2 to 5 millimeters wide. They have a bright green color, are rigid and flexible, with a leathery appearance.

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On the other hand, its flowers are zygomorphic, composed of 5 different pieces of intense blue or dark purple. They bloom from July to October and can measure 3 to 4 centimeters in diameter and 2 centimeters high.

These are grouped in clusters at the top of the stem. The aconite fruit measures approximately 17 millimeters, and is made up of 3 to 5 arched follicles. Each follicle contains numerous black, pyramidal and shiny seeds of small size, between 3 and 5 millimeters.

When to plant aconite?

Aconite is a plant resistant to cold and frost. It can be multiplied by seed, indoors, during the months of January, February and March.

In the case of planting outdoors, it should be done in the months of January, August, September or December.

Likewise, it can be grown through the roots of the plant during the months of September, October and November, in order to see them bloom during June, July and August.

It can be sown by bulb during the spring, but the level of humidity in the soil must be monitored, especially during the first summer.

Where to plant aconite?

The monkshood plant should be planted in a location where it can benefit from direct sunlight or semi-shade. It needs a moist, deep and nitrified substrate.

If you want to plant it in warm regions, you should find a semi-shaded area, where it is exposed to sunlight for only a few hours in the morning or in the evening.

How to prepare the land?

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The ideal soil for growing aconite is rich in nutrients, well drained, weakly acidic, with a pH of 4.5 to 7.5. For this reason, it will be important to prepare it with manure, guano, banana or egg shells, among others. Conditioning should be carried out from the beginning of spring to the end of summer.

How do we water an aconite?

Aconite can be watered with rainwater or without lime. If you do not have a rainwater harvesting system, then you can use a water tank in which it rests for 1 or 2 days. This procedure will remove chlorine and lime from the water.

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How often do we water the aconite?

It is recommended to water the monkshood plant frequently but controlled to avoid saturation of the soil. During periods of heat and in the summer, it should be watered every 2 days.

Irrigation can be reduced and done every 5 to 6 days during the other months of the year.

How to plant aconite step by step?

Aconite can be propagated through different methods: by seed, by root division and by cuttings. Below are the steps to grow it by seed and by root division.

by seed

  1. Place seeds in a container or plastic bag with moist sand, preferably mature seeds due to their long dormancy and low germination rate.
  2. Place the container in a humid and warm environment, between 16ºC and 22ºC, for a period of 2 to 4 weeks.
  3. Change the container to a cold place, preferably in the refrigerator, at temperatures between -4ºC and 5ºC, for a period of 5 to 6 weeks.
  4. After the recommended time, remove the container from the cold and keep it at room temperature, checking regularly if any seeds have germinated.
  5. Once the seedling has grown large enough, place it in a hole twice its size and enrich the area with organic fertilizer.
  6. Water abundantly without saturating the substrate.

by root division

  1. Divide the extracted aconite root into 5-centimeter sections along with part of its root system.
  2. Transplant the roots to the desired area, in holes slightly larger than the plant segment, 5 centimeters deep, leaving a separation of 5 to 10 centimeters between them.
  3. Water the area to compact the substrate.

This process can be carried out every 4 or 5 years during the fall, when the flowering decreases.

What care does aconite need?

Careful with this!Having a monkshood plant can be extremely dangerous, especially if there are children or pets at home. Its cultivation involves risks and you have to seriously think about them before planting it.

The use of gloves during the cultivation and handling of aconite is recommended to avoid absorption of the toxicity of the plant or its roots through the skin.

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With regard to maintenance, aconite does not need demanding work. However, fertilization tasks can be carried out during the spring, as well as the purification of withered flowers or buds to prolong the flowering period.

What pests and diseases affect aconite?

Rarely aconite is affected by verticillium wilt (Verticillium) or powdery mildew (Leveillula taurica). Also, its roots can rot due to stagnant water.

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