How to Grow Columbine Flowers

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Columbine is native to Asia, Europe, and North America. It grows best in partial shade and well-drained soil, though it will tolerate a variety of sun and soil conditions, making it ideal for planting nearly anywhere you wish to add a splash of color in your landscaping. It is especially effective as edging or in rock gardens. Columbine is the state flower of Colorado, and is sometimes also referred to as “Rocky Mountain Columbine.”

It has scalloped, blue-green foliage and its blooms are light and airy, with conical petals. The plants reach an average mature height of between 15 and 20 inches tall. The flowers come in a variety of shades including whites, pinks, reds, purples, blues, and variegated or bi-color combinations. They begin to bloom in late spring to early summer. Because of the shape of the flowers and their abundance of nectar, they are a favorite of hummingbirds. If you are a hummingbird lover, columbine would make an exceptional,low-maintenance addition to your flower bed.

You will need:

*  Columbine seeds or plants
*  Flower bed or flower pots and soil

1.  Columbine is a very easy flower to propagate. It propagates from seed, and can be seeded directly into your flower beds. (Though for earlier and more sustained flowering, you may wish to start seedlings indoors in peat pots during the late winter months.) Seeds should be sewn 1/8″ deep, approximately 16 to 18 inches apart.

2.  Harvesting the seeds is quite a simple process. After the flowers are done blooming, do not dead head the plant. Instead, leave the dead bloom intact. The petals will fall off and reveal seed pods. The pods will be green at first, and not ready for the seeds to be removed. After a few days to a couple of weeks (depending on climate, elevation, and many other factors), the seed pods will turn brown. As soon as they appear brown and dead, they are ready to be harvested. Try to catch them before they automatically open up and drop their seeds. Harvest the seeds by cutting off the entire dead seed pod. Then, over a container (an empty 35mm film canister works wonderfully), rub the seed pods gently between your fingers. The pods will break open and drop small, round seeds. Continue to rub gently until all seeds have been extracted from each pod. If you aren’t planting them immediately, to keep seeds viable, you may want to store them in the freezer until you are ready to plant them!

3.  Established plants can also be separated in the spring months.

Additional tips and info:

*  Once a patch of columbine is established, it will continue to bloom until frost. It is even hardy enough to survive through light frosts, so it may make it through several frosts before going dormant for the winter, and requires no mulching or other protection over the winter months.
*  It is also highly resistant to insects and other pest infestations.

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