How to Grow Aquilegia Plants

how to grow columbine plants

Here are some easy tips on how to grow Aquilegia plants: These perennial plants are easy to grow. Use moist, well-draining soil made up of loam, leaf mold, and sand. Put transplants in a hole twice the size of the root ball. Water and cover with organic mulch.

Pronunciation: ak-wee-LEE-jee-uh

Common Names: Columbine, Granny’s Bonnet

Description: These meadow and woodland natives have delicate flowers that look like small, folded paper lanterns. These lovely blossoms come in a rainbow of colors. Many Aquilegia plants have blooms with central petals of a different color from the rest of the flower. The stems are grey to dark green. These perennial plants grow from 15-20 in. tall and 1-2 ft. wide. They generally live from 3-5 years.

Sun/Light Needs: Full to part sun; avoid spots with hot afternoon sun.

Origin: Native to North America. The name comes from the Latin word for eagle, to describe the shape of the flower (it looks like an eagle’s claw.) The word columba means dove; some think the flowers of Columbine plants look like a group of doves close together.

USDA Zones: 3-8. In Zones 9-10, plants must have shade.

Propagation: Aquilegia plants self-seed.

Fertilizer Needs: A balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer put down in early spring; make a ring 6 in. from the base of the plant.

Maintenance: Low. Just keep soil evenly moist and deadhead spent blooms to keep plants blooming. After plants are done flowering, they can look raggedy. Cut plants down to ground. In several weeks, fresh foliage will grow back. Grow Columbine plants with other perennial plants that will fill in after the Columbine is done flowering; these other plants will hide ugly or cut-back foliage.

Wildlife Value: Attracts butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. Deer-resistant.

Display: Along paths or entryways; use as cut flowersthey last a week or more.

Companion Plants: Phlox, Toad lily, Foamflower.

Important Note: Columbine plants are related to Baneberries and Monkshood; they can all be toxic. Never eat any part of these perennial plants.

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