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How to Grow and Care for Columbine Plants

Aquilegia species

This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsHummingbird PlantButterfly FlowerNo DeerSome or all parts of this plant may be toxic or poisonousWhite flowering plantRed flowering plantYellow flowering plantblue flowering plantPurple flowering plantA photograph is availableHow to Use the Plant Care Icons at The Garden Helper
The Columbine is a wildflower that deserves a home in your garden!
This perennial wildflower is a native to most temperate areas of the world.
The flowers range from 1"-3", and come in hybrid colors ranging from black to white, with every color of the rainbow between.
The foliage is light and delicate.
Columbines prefer light shade and moist soil, but they can tolerate full sun, provided they receive sufficient moisture.
Columbines are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9

Prism, a pretty Pixie

Growing Requirements for Columbines

The Columbine (Aquilegia) is an easy plant to grow because it adapts itself to a wide variety of conditions. Columbines do best however, when they are grown in moist, rich, well drained soil in light shade. These one to three foot high plants generally begin blooming in early to mid-May and will often continue through June if the flowers are removed as they fade.
Columbines are one of a Hummingbird's favorite flowers, and are excellent additions to the rock garden, or as a native woodland planting. They tend to cross-pollinate, hybridize, and self seed freely, creating new strains and colors. However, the formation of seeds will shorten the productive lifespan of the plant, so it is best to remove the spent flowers promptly.
Columbines tend to lose vitality after 3-4 years and it is best to replace them at that time.

Planting and Propagating Columbines

Plants should be set out the garden in spring or late summer.
Plant them one to two feet apart with the crown (where the roots and tops meet) at soil level.
Once established, feed them monthly with a soluble all purpose (5-10-5) fertilizer and keep them well watered during growing season.
In colder regions (Zones 3-5), it is a good idea to provide your Columbines with a good mulch of hay, straw, etc. in late fall to protect them from alternating freezing and thawing temperatures.

Growing Columbines from Seed

Seed may be sown directly in the garden in early spring or up until mid summer.
The seeds should be left uncovered, because they germinate faster in light.
These seeds will produce flowering size plants the following spring.
If you are starting your Columbine seeds indoors, they will need to be sown into their pots or flats, and then chilled in the refrigerator for 1-3 weeks before moving them to 70-75 degrees, where they will germinate.


Columbines
Aquilegia
A Hybrid Columbine flower named Winky A brightly colored Columbine flower A wild Columbine in bloom, Aquilegia formosa