The eastern columbine grows native to the East Coast of North America, from Nova Scotia all the way to Florida. It’s hardy in many climates, though it blooms only in warm weather. Gardeners looking to plant a butterfly garden will love columbine; hummingbirds and butterflies won’t leave it alone. The flowers also add vibrant color and visual interest to your landscape. They range from flaming orange-yellow to deep indigo and look like a small crown of spikes.
Dampen a paper towel with room temperature water and wring it out until it’s nearly dry. Fold the towel in half widthwise and then lengthwise. You should have a small, thick paper towel rectangle.
Open the second fold of your paper towel and sprinkle about a teaspoon of columbine seeds into the towel. Slide the towel into a plastic bag, making sure none of the seeds spills out. Leave the bag open.
Place the bag in your refrigerator for about two months, making sure not to disturb it. This simulates the cold season the seeds need to germinate. When the seeds are ready to transplant, you’ll see tiny stems and leaves sprouting from the seeds.
Fill as many pots as you have seedlings with rich potting soil up to about 1 inch below the rim. Push your finger down into the center of each pot, making a 1/2-inch hole. Place a seed into each hole and gently pack the soil around the stem of your seedling.
Water the seedlings with about a cup of water, emptying runoff from the flood trays immediately. Columbines love moist soil but shouldn’t sit in standing water. Water this way about every three days.
Plant columbine seedlings in the ground in late spring after threat of frost has passed. Line the hole with rich compost, and water well. In cool, Northern climates, full sun is required. In warmer climates, columbines grow best in partial shade.