How to Grow and Care For Monkshood (Aconitum)

Learn How to Grow and Care For Monkshood (Aconitum)

How to Grow and Care For Monkshood (Aconitum)

Image by Boris Gaberšček from

The Monkshood (Aconitum) plant is an herbaceous wildflower that can be found growing in mountainous areas in Europe and Asia. It is a beautiful, stately perennial with tall spires of purple or deep-blue flowers from mid- to late summer. Monkshood (Aconitum) also known as wolfsbane, common aconite, leopard’s bane, mousebane, women’s bane, devil’s helmet. Its common name derives from the flower’s posterior sepal’s shape, which is similar to monks’ cowls.

Common nameMonkshood, aconite monkshood, wolfsbane
Botanical nameAconitum napellus
Plant type Herbaceous, perennial
Plant SizeHeight: 1.5m , Spread: 50cm
Growing zones and range3 – 8
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Flower Color Blue, purple, white, yellow, pink
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer and Rabbit resistant
Special Features Low Maintenance

Best Way To Grow Monkshood

Plant Aconitum in full sun and partial shade; Typically, the sunnier the spot, the better for the bloom. Aconitum thrives in shade. For best results, choose a location with morning sun and afternoon shade. Aconitum prefers cool, moist but well-drained soil. These plants may develop root rot in dense, poorly drained soils. Before planting, fill the planting bed with a lot of old compost. Aconitum prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 7.0.

If you decide to plant seeds, do so as soon as they are ripe in the fall. Even though it sometimes takes more than a year after sowing, the seeds should begin to sprout in the spring. From seed, plants typically take several years to bloom. Divide large clumps in spring or autumn to establish divisions. The plants may take some time to recover from division, as they dislike disturbance. Monkshoods can delay flowering for a year or two if they are transplanted.

Space seeds 1″ apart. Sow seed 1/4 inch deep in containers and keep them in the light at around 60°F (15.6°C) until seedlings are several inches tall; then pot up to the next largest container. They should emerge in 30 days. Thin or transplant when the plants are 5 to 6 inches (12.7–15 cm) tall. Space Aconitum 10 inches apart. Unless it is in direct sunlight, water aconitum moderately. In full sun, water more often.
In warm and hot areas, mulch to retain soil moisture and keep roots cool. Feed every six weeks with a bloom-booster fertiliser or feed with a slow-release fertiliser. Aconitum dislikes being transplanted or divided.

A Warning About Aconitum Monkshood

Aconitum is one of the most dangerously toxic plants. Place it far away from curious adults, kids, or animals. Contact with foliage can cause a rash. You should be quite careful when handling monkshood and be sure to wear gloves.