Is there a particular time when to plant the columbine or you can plant any time of the year and does that determine their bloom time too?
Columbine (Aquilegia spp) is one of the sweetest flowers grown across America. It has an airy appearance with small, rounded leaves and tall flower stalks that hold the flowers above the foliage.
These flowers start blooming early spring, with others blooming in mid-spring and peak garden season. It has attractive dark green foliage that turns maroon-colored in fall. These bell-shaped flowers are popular among gardeners and loved by hummingbirds, bees, and gardeners.
These flowers resemble the bird’s claw with the common name columbine derived after the Latin word dove. The inverted flower looks similar with five birds clustered together.
This plant has been in cultivation for many years and comes in dozens of hybrids and cultivars developed each year. It readily crossbreeds and you can grow two different varieties that might give you self-seeded varieties.
How To Grow Columbines
Columbine plants are easy to grow as long as your soil is well-draining and not too dry. Though they like full sun, they don’t like it too hot especially during the summer. Give them partial shade in the afternoons of summer. Mulch can also help to insulate and protect these plants during the winter in some regions.
When To Plant The Columbine
- Plant your columbine seeds anytime between early spring and mid-summer. Columbines start easily from seed and readily multiply once established.
- Do not cover the seeds; as long as they are receiving plenty of light they will germinate and grow well.
- If you are growing from transplants, plant during the same time with the crown placed at soil level.
- Space both the seeds and the transplants anywhere from 1 to 2 feet.
- For seed-grown plants, the bloom will appear in the second year not the first.
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Caring For The Columbine Plant
Columbine plants do not require too much care and maintenance. However, they need some substantial care before they are established. The care tips include
Keep the plant moist after planting until they are well established. Water weekly with exception of the extended period of drought where you will need additional watering.
Fertilize them monthly. Provide a water-soluble fertilizer every month to help produce brighter blooms and thicker foliage.
Deadhead regularly to encourage re-blooming.
Cut the self-seeded plants in the fall to avoid self-sowing if that is not what you want. However, if you want them to self-sow, leave them alone.
Treat any leaf miner problem with neem oil as a way to control and eradicate the pests.
Prune these plants back to the basal just after blooming to alleviate pests and insects that could harm the plant. You could enjoy a new stem growth within a few weeks of pruning and a new wave of blooms.
Varieties Of The Columbine Flower
Columbine comes in a variety of species. They include the dwarf varieties, which are just 6 inches tall as well as large varieties like the McKana’s Giants that are over 3 feet tall and produce large flowers.
Did you know aquilegia varieties readily cross-pollinate? If you plant more than one variety, be ready to see new colors and combinations. Some of the columbine’s varieties include
Aquilegia ‘McKana Hybrid’ – This variety produces long-spurred, bi-colored flowers that can be blue and white, red and yellow or other color combinations. It blooms in the late spring to early summer.
Aquilegia ‘Crimson Star’ – This variety features long-spurred, crimson red flowers, and its blooms last for four to six weeks in late spring to early summer.
Aquilegia caerulea (Rocky Mountain columbine)- This variety has fern-like foliage that is grayish-green in color and blooms for four to six weeks in the late spring and early summer. Its bloom has violet-blue sepals, white petals, and yellow stamens.
Aquilegia Songbird ‘BlueBird’– This variety blooms with long-spurred blue and white flowers that are up to 3 inches long. It is part of the Songbird Series of Columbine that also includes ‘Cardinal’ and ‘Dove.’
Columbine is known to self-sow and it is recommended because these plants are short-lived with an average lifespan of about 3 to 4 years. Every 3 years you can divide the plants and re-plant them separately if you wish.
Did you know Native Americans use the columbine seeds for love charm and medicinal purposes? The crushed seeds and roots were used to treat headaches, heart problems, and sore throats.
Now that you know when to plant the columbine and the care it needs, why not try to grow your own this time around. Moreover, if you are already growing them, you can now add some knowledge to your garden for that perfect gardening. Go on and have fun with your gardening!