It won’t be long before columbines will be blooming in my garden again. They start to bloom just in time to nourish returning hummingbirds famished from their long journey back to my garden.
Botanically named Aquilegia, there is no mistaking columbines. Distinctive, spurred, bell-shaped flowers in a wide range of colors from soft, pleasing pastels to vibrant, happy hues make them easy to identify.
Columbines are easy to grow in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. These delicate-looking perennials are tough, but short-lived. Self-seeding abundantly, columbines consistently supply their own replacements – cross-pollinated seedlings that surprise their gardeners with new combinations of color.
Plants grow from 18 to 30 inches tall and up to 18 inches wide. Flowers bloom from mid spring to early summer in my garden. If spent flowering stems are removed, additional flowers are the reward. If their lobed and lacy, blue-green foliage begins to look summer-worn, cut it to the ground. Fresh, new foliage will soon take its place.
Columbines are not without flaws. They are prone to powdery mildew when daytime temperatures are warm and nights are cool. Reduce the risk of this fungal disease by increasing air circulation around plants and planting them in full sun.
While I have had few incidences of powdery mildew, my columbines are often ‘decorated’ by columbine leaf miners. Tunnels, caused by the feeding of fly larvae, wind their way across leaves giving foliage a variegated appearance. I cut back affected foliage and the subsequent new growth lasts the rest of the season without damage.
Do you grow columbine? If not, add it to your wish list today. Garden with me!