23 December 2017

Columbine Love

Columbine is a lovely flower to see in sun or part-shade garden spots. The bell-shaped flowers are a gorgeous red-hot-pink with yellow center and anthers. 

Mary Ann King at Pine Ridge Gardens said in Plant of the Week - 
"Eastern columbine is native to Arkansas and all states from the Midwest to the eastern shores with the exception of Louisiana.  Zones 3-9.  

There are several misconceptions surrounding this lovely native.  Most folks think it is delicate – and I agree that it looks fragile.  But let me tell you it is one TOUGH plant.  

It will grow in the full sun, out between two rocks, or it will grow in the shade or anywhere in between.  I’ve seen it growing out of boulders where it has almost no soil.  It is certainly drought tolerant.  

I think it probably wouldn’t like soils that are too wet.  Hummingbirds adore it.  Bumblebees as well.  

Grows from 1 to 3’ tall.  After flowering, seed follicles form and fill with shiny black seeds.  The follicles splits along the top and you can catch these seeds and disperse them where you will.  I just like to take handfuls and toss them.  
Giant Mix from Harris Seed

The foliage is poisonous so rabbits and deer generally leave them alone.  

The main cultural practice that columbines don’t like is: being planted deeper than how they are growing in the pot and they don’t like mulch pulled up close to their crown."

There are many hybrids, that bring other colors to our spring flower beds. Harris Seed (photo) sells a mix of colors in bare root plants. 25 for $53.

Clementine Red from
Bluestone Perennials

Here's a double flowering hybrid variety, Clementine Red, from Bluestone Perennials. $13 per plant.


The natives, Aquigelia canadensis for example, are most likely to spread around your garden. Hybrids grown from cloning methods such as cuttings, chemical replication, etc. have shorter lifespans and spread only with ideal care and location.

Most seed companies offer seed packs of the single varieties as well as some of the doubles. A quick check from my computer yielded dozens of places to get them.

The best seed growing how-to resource, http://tomclothier.hort.net/, says that germination is slow and spotty with cold stratification helpful and probably necessary. Maybe if you want to grow from seed you should order now or soon.

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