2018-05-15 / Columns


A memory from your grandmother’s garden, columbines are a perennial beauty.

These gorgeous plants especially enjoy woodland type of settings. Some varieties are also prolific self seeders.

The old-fashioned columbines were usually shades of red and white with small spurs. Over time the market has given us double blooms such as “Nora Barlow” and hybrid mixes with extremely long spurs. All columbines attract both butterflies and hummingbirds.

Columbines may be started from seed or purchased as a mature plant at a nursery. It will normally take two seasons to produce a full, flowering plant from seed. Seeds should be surface sown. They will germinate fairly quickly.

Plants will prosper with a semi-shady, organic soil. Even dampness without standing water will be ideal conditions. Blooms tend to last much longer with filtered light. Keeping plant deadheaded will promote all-season flowering. If old blooms are left to go to seed scatter them under the plant. They will readily selfseed under trees and in wood chips. Watch for a little worm in springtime that can strip all the leaves in one night. Columbines enjoy regular feeding with a liquid fertilizer.

Send specific questions to Country Grown Perennials, Peggy Bolton, 4801 Pines Brook Road, Walton, NY 13856. Enclose a stamped, addressed envelope for a personal reply. Visit us on the web at

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