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Growing Guides

Columbine

Columbine, also known as Aquilegia, is a beautiful flowering perennial plant that belongs to the Ranunculaceae family. It is renowned for its unique and intricate flowers, which come in a variety of colors, including shades of blue, purple, pink, yellow, and white. Columbine flowers have distinctive spurs that extend backward from the petals, giving them an elegant and delicate appearance. The plant's foliage is often attractive as well, with fern-like leaves that add to its overall appeal.

 

HOW TO GROW:

Location: Choose a location for your columbine plant that receives partial shade to full sun, depending on your climate. In warmer regions, some afternoon shade can help protect the plants from excessive heat. Columbine prefers well-drained soil enriched with organic matter.

Planting: Columbine can be grown from seeds or transplants. If starting from seeds, sow them directly in the garden in early spring or late summer to allow for natural stratification. If using transplants, plant them in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and place the plant at the same depth it was growing in the container. Space the plants about 1 to 2 feet apart to allow for their mature size.

Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, especially during dry periods. Water deeply at the base of the plants, avoiding wetting the foliage to prevent diseases. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Fertilizing: Columbines generally don't require heavy fertilization. However, you can apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring or incorporate compost into the soil before planting to provide some nutrients. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowers.

Maintenance: Remove faded flowers to promote continuous blooming and prevent self-seeding. In late fall or early spring, cut back any yellowing or damaged foliage to encourage new growth. Columbine is generally a low-maintenance plant but keep an eye out for common pests like aphids or leaf miners. If necessary, treat with organic insecticides or employ natural pest control methods.

Division: Columbine plants benefit from division every 3 to 4 years to rejuvenate their growth and maintain vigor. Divide the plants in early spring or fall when the weather is cool. Carefully dig up the clump, separate the individual plants, and replant them at the same depth in well-prepared soil.

HARVESTING:

Columbine is primarily grown for ornamental purposes and is not typically harvested. However, you can cut the flowers for fresh floral arrangements to enjoy their beauty indoors. Harvest the flowers early in the morning when they are fully open for the longest vase life.

 

FAST FACTS:

  • Common name: Columbine
  • Latin name: Aquilegia spp.
  • Growth habit: Herbaceous perennial
  • Flower colors: Blue, purple, pink, yellow, white, etc.
  • Bloom time: Spring to early summer
  • USDA Zones: 3-9 (varies depending on the species)
  • Height: Varies depending on the species and cultivar, typically 1-3 feet tall
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