Analytics

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Aquilegia (Columbine) is an Easy and Beautiful Perennial for the Garden

When someone asks me "what plant or flower do you have the most of in your garden" I always reply Aquilegia or what is commonly called Columbine.  To tell you the truth-I don't even know how many I have or even which ones I have.  I have been letting them self-seed and I also randomly throw down seeds and have been doing it for years now.   Since Aquilegia is probably the most adaptable and easiest to grow plant in my garden I encourage them to grow everywhere.
 
Patch of different Aquilegia growing in my garden
When I say easy and adaptable I mean it.  It will grow in dry shade under my pine trees or or in Full sun (zone 5) next to Lavender.  If you have a difficult area I suggest growing Aquilegia there.  Aquilegia has a taproot which makes it a beautiful drought tolerant plant and is often used in rock and alpine gardens.  It is perfectly hardy in zones 4-8.

White Aquilegia growing under pine trees
Aquilegia growing in full sun
There are some beautiful varieties out there-just about any color you can imagine!  White, yellow, pink, red, purple, black, bi colors, solid colors-you name it.

Purple and pink Aquilegia

Pale pink Aquilegia
They also have a variety of flower forms-singles, doubles, short spurs, long spurs, without spurs.
Aquilegia chrysantha with long spurs

White Aquilegia (no id)  without spurs
They are super easy from seed-in fact all of mine have come from seed.  Don't waste your money buying a plant because Aquilegias are a short-lived perennial.  Instead grow them from seed-you can buy seed packets from various retailers or just ask another gardener to share.  I have received many seeds from other gardeners.  One note though-Aquilegia hybridize readily so they may or may not look like the mother plant.  I personally enjoy the surprise I get growing them from seed but if you want true "named" varieties buy the seed packets from the store. Sow seeds or allow them to self-sow every year to ensure you always have the plant around.
Aquilegia vulgaris "Black Barlow"

Aquilegia "Winky Series"
One bonus I truly appreciate in this plant is deer and rabbit resistant.  I have a serious rabbit problem and this is one of my plants they avoid nibbling.  Squirrels and deer stay away from it too!  If you have any of these animal  problems this is a must for your garden!
Purple Aquilegia
 If you are looking to plant for pollinators Aquilegia is a must.  It attracts bees as well as Hummingbirds to it's flowers.  In my garden the hummingbird favorite seems to be my native Aquilegia canadensis but they do visit the others throughout my gardens and the bees don't seem to have a favorite.  The go from on to another without regards to color or style.
Aquilegia canadensis
Aquilegia bloom throughout much of the month of May-but my Aquilegia "Tequila Sunrise" has an extremely long bloom time for the species blooming from May well into the month of June.
My longest blooming variety-Aquilegia "Tequila Sunrise"
I have to admit that this plant is not without it's problems.  Leaf miners usually attack my plants every year.  It does not harm the plant-it just cause the leaves to look funny.  Aphids and spider mites can also be a problem.  They also will usually not kill the plant but may cause leaves or flowers to become distorted.  Mildew will surface on it's leaves from time to time-but this also will not kill the plant.  My solution to all of these problems is not chemicals but to just cut the entire plant down to the crown and throw away (do not compost it).  The plant will send up a new flush of leaves in no time and will look good as new. 

Aquilegia do not need any help in the form of fertilizer.  I do not fertilize the plants in my garden and they bloom beautifully so save that Miracle Grow for your other plants.  The only nutrients my plants receive are those provided by my mulch layer breaking down or a rabbit pooping in the area. 
White Aquilegia
I hope this post has given you some incentive to grow this very beautiful and useful plant in your gardens.  They are an easy and wonderful addition to your garden and you will not be disappointed!   Here are some more varieties to encourage you:
Purple/Blue Aquilegia
White Aquilegia
Pink Aquilegia
Purple Aquilegia

Pink Aquilegia
Purple Aquilegia
Thanks for stopping by and if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below.  As always:

Happy planting!
Rhonda

4 comments:

  1. These are all so pretty. I haven't grown columbine in years. And I think they are such a pretty flower. You have inspired me. I will try some. Love those vivid colors. Will they bloom quickly from seed or need a few years?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kim! If you grow them from seed they will bloom the second year-unless you start them early inside. You can find the plants for sale at the store that are blooming if you want a head start. If you want to try from seed I have some-let me know:-))

      Delete
  2. I have happened upon your very informative blog and love the info and pics. I was hoping for some flowers first year from seed but will start sowing the Tequila Sunrise Columbians from seed today. If seed packet pic is accurate, looks like they should ( I hope) put on red w yellow center flowers next year. Just wondering if you perhaps have seed from other colors that I can obtain from you??
    Thanks..Marcia

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have happened upon your very informative blog and love the info and pics. I was hoping for some flowers first year from seed but will start sowing the Tequila Sunrise Columbians from seed today. If seed packet pic is accurate, looks like they should ( I hope) put on red w yellow center flowers next year. Just wondering if you perhaps have seed from other colors that I can obtain from you??
    Thanks..Marcia

    ReplyDelete