How to Plant and Grow Columbine Flowers

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Columbine plants or seeds
Growing pots or containers
Growing medium
Soil amendments
Garden shovel

Columbine flowers, whose botanical name is Aquilegia, grow in many parts of the world. In the home rock garden, columbine flowers attract hummingbirds. With more than 70 species in the wild, perennial columbine is distinctive due to its five spurs that spread from the base of the flower. Growing columbine flowers isn't at all difficult, and can provide variety and interest to the garden landscape. Follow these steps.

Step 1 - Plant from Seed

To plant columbine flowers from seed, sow directly in the garden in early spring or winter for most varieties. Do not cover seed since they germinate with light. Expect columbine flowers the following spring.

Seeds may also be started indoors by sowing in growing pots or containers that are refrigerated for one to three weeks. Then move them to an area of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit to allow them to germinate.

Step 2 - Plant Container-Grown Columbines

Set container-grown plants out in spring or late summer. Columbine flowers prefer light shade and moist soil. Adding organic soil amendments to the soil can help speed their acclimatization. They can tolerate full sunlight — as long as they get adequate moisture from rain or irrigation.

Space plants 1 to 2 feet apart with the crown at soil level. Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the container plant. Score the bottom and sides of the potted plant to allow roots to more quickly become established in their new home. Press with fingers to eliminate air pockets around the columbine flowers and water thoroughly.

Step 3 - Fertilize

Be sure to fertilize columbine flowers monthly with an all-purpose (5-10-5) fertilizer. This ensures the plants get sufficient nutrients and maintain their vigor.

Step 4 - Mulch

In colder areas (U.S. Hardiness zones 4 and 5), mulch with hay or straw. This protects columbine flowers from alternate freeze/thaw temperature extremes and drying out.

Step 5 - Keep Well Watered

During the summer dry spell, be sure to keep columbine flowers well watered. These perennials need their moisture.

Step 6 - Remove Deadheads

Depending on variety, columbine grows from 1 to 3 feet tall and have flowers from 1 to 3 inches in diameter. They bloom early to mid-May through June. To ensure near-constant blooming, remove spent flowers immediately, a process known as deadheading.

Step 7 - Replace

The lifespan of most perennial columbine flowers is about three to four years. Remove and replace them with new plants at that time.