September 2, 2020


How to grow Columbine

Aquilegia is a hardy perennial known as Columbine.

Latin-Aquilegia vulgaris

Family:  Ranunculaceae

Season & Zone-Exposure:  Partial shade – full sun is tolerated where summers are cool-Zone: 3-9


Direct sow in autumn or freeze seeds for at least 3 weeks and direct sow in spring. 

Seeds can be started indoors, but it’s more complicated: Sow seeds in flats of moistened, sterilized seed starting mix, and place these inside plastic bags in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Then sink the flats outdoors in the ground in a shady spot, and cover with glass. As seedlings appear, transplant them or pot them. Germination takes 30-90 days.


Sow on the soil surface, transplant or thin seedlings to 30-50cm (12-20″) apart.


Seedlings are easy to move but delicate. Keep them out of strong sunlight, and water frequently, but gently. Deadhead regularly to prolong the blooming period. Columbine’s flowers are followed by distinctive seed pods that open on their own when seeds are ripe. These can be removed to prevent self-sowing, or for a very easy harvest of the seeds. We like to harvest Columbine seeds mid-summer and spread them in any shady spot that could use some color.

Grow Columbine in humus-rich, moist, but well-drained soil.


With Calgary winters being unpredictable I have found that splitting the seeds in two groups, one group sow in the fall, and the other group sow in the spring. I directly sow them but you can try to sow them inside if using the directions in the Timing section above. They’re touchy to transplant as seedlings and need a fair amount of care if you are trying to transplant the seedlings. Mature plants transplant fairly well. I use a plastic gallon milk container which the top has been cut off and use the bottom part to cover the sowing area to allow the seeds to germinate without being blown away

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