Growing Aquilegia (Columbine)
Aquilegia (Columbine) are native, shade loving perennials that provide ample nectar for hummingbirds. They are resistant to browsing rabbits and deer.
Preferred growing conditions
- These perennials grow best in compost enriched garden loam and dislike clay.
- Should be mulched in dry climates with most types of common mulch materials.
- Prefer regular watering to keep the soil moderately moist, but too much water makes them floppy.
- Plant in part sun (morning sun/afternoon shade) or dappled shade, although at high elevation (above 7,000 ft.) they will do fine in full sun with regular irrigation. Aquilegia chrysantha and A. desertorum are the most sun tolerant.
- Prepare the soil with good quality compost (not bagged manure, it’s too salty) and Yum Yum Mix.
- Deadhead plants to prolong bloom, but leave some flowers to set seed.
- Individual Columbine plants can be short lived (3 to 4 years), but they will colonize areas of the garden where they will live for many years.
- Columbine propagate themselves by re-seeding. To keep them re-seeding true-to-type, it's best to plant each species separate from other species (at least 100 ft. apart or on other sides of your house) to keep the hummingbirds from cross-pollinating them to any great extent.
- Fertilize Aquilegia once in fall with Yum Yum Mix and Planters II.
- Leave plants standing over the winter and cut back to 1-2" inches above the soil in mid-spring when the plants begin to wake up.
- If the foliage becomes damaged from leaf miners or becomes straggly during the heat of summer, cut the foliage back hard (2-3" above the ground) and the plants will re-grow fresh, clean foliage in late summer/early fall.
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