How to Care for Columbine Perennials
Aquilegia vulgaris, commonly known as columbine, is the state flower of Colorado. The plant is an herbaceous evergreen perennial that may grow 3 feet tall. There are more than 80 species of Aquilegia and they come in just about every color. The plants normally only live for about three years, but they will self-seed readily. If the columbine plant is a hybrid, however, the seed may not grow true to the original plant. Columbine requires little maintenance and is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture planting zones 3 through 9.
things you’ll need:
- 5-10-5 fertilizer
- Pruning snips
- Water columbine that is planted in full sun once a week in the spring and every three days during the summer. Cut watering back to once a week in the fall. Plants growing in partial shade will need less water. Check the ground by sticking your finger down about an inch. If it is dry, water; if it is still moist, wait another day.
- Spread a 1-inch layer of compost over the soil around the columbine plants each spring, then water thoroughly. The compost will leach into the soil with each watering, keeping it rich in nutrition and ensuring the soil does not compact too tightly.
- Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch around the plants in the spring. The mulch will help to retain moisture and keep weeds from growing around the plants. Add 3 more inches of mulch around the base of the plants in the late fall if you live in a cold climate, to keep them from freeze damage.
- Apply a 5-10-5 fertilizer once a month to the soil or mulch under the plants. Try not to allow the fertilizer to touch the plant’s main branch or it may burn it. Follow the fertilizer manufacturer’s directions for application amounts, based on the age and number of plants you have.
- Snip off flowers as they start to fade to promote the growth of new flowers. Leave a few of the dead flower heads to produce the seeds if you want the plant to reseed itself. Cut off any dead, diseased or damaged stems or leaves at any time of year