Most varieties of aquilegia will bloom for at least 4 weeks. They are tougher plants than they appear, but they tend to be short-lived perennials. However they will seed and spread, remaining in your garden for years.
Leaves: Flat fans of oval dark green leaves that turn red in the fall.
Flowers: Each dangling, bell-shaped flower has 5 petals that flare out from the base, surrounded by a collar of 5 larger sepals. The long, nectar holding spurs arch backward out of the flowers. Petals and sepals come in a variety of colors and combinations, in shade of light blue, pink, purple, red, white and yellow
Bloom PeriodLate spring to Early Summer. Columbines will remain in bloom 4 to 6 weeks,depending on the weather.
- ‛Sunshine' - Long blooming with large, fluffy, double pale yellow flowers. (24-28")
- ‛Songbird Mix' - bicolored flowers; white paired with shades of blue, purple and violet (24-36")
- 'Texas Gold' - Tough, heat tolerant hybrid with gold flowers
- Aquilegia bertolonii - Light blue and white compact alpine plant (6-8")
- Aquilegia canadensis> - Pretty native red and yellow species that naturalizes. (15-18")
- Aquilegia vulgaris plena - ‛Black Barlow' - Double, spurless flowers in almost black purple (28-32")
You can use aquilegia in containers, but they'll need regular watering. Place the containers somewhere where hummingbirds will feel welcome, because this is one of their favorite plants.
Soil:Aquilegia is adaptable, but it prefers an acidic soil pH of about 5.0 to 6.0.
Planting:You can start aquilegia from seed or plant. Seeds can be direct sown throughout spring. The seeds need light to germinate, so simply press them on the soil surface and barely cover with soil. Since aquilegia is a perennial, it will take 2 years from planting seed, for them to bloom.
If you are starting your seeds indoors, they will do better with some pre-chilling. Place the seeds in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with some damp potting soil, 8-12 weeks before your last frost date. Then pot them up and move them to a warmer spot.
Aguilegia plants should be planted with their crown at soil level. Water well and mulch. New plants will need to be kept moist, until they become established. You'll know when they start putting out a lot of new growth. Even then, keep your aquilegia plants well water during dry spells.
Maintenance:Columbnie plants can handle full sun. It's the combination of heat and dry soil they don't like and mulching will help alleviate that.
Combine will self-sow, but new plants can be lost if the summer gets to hot. Also, plants tend to be short lived, fading out within 3 years. Hedge your bets and save some seed to sow in the fall or falling spring.
Keep in mind that aquilegia varieties readily cross pollinate. If you plant more than one variety, be prepared to see new colors and combinations.
If self-sowing becomes a nuisance, shear the plants back in mid-summer, to prevent seed pods from forming.