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Columbines are truly unique-looking flowers. With their dangling bell-like shape and spurs at the back, there is nothing else quite them. Because columbines come in almost every color, these easy-to-grow perennials are highly sought after garden plants. They also seed themselves around the garden, saving you the hassle of resowing seeds each year!
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Part Sun, Sun
From 6 inches to 3 feet
6 inches to 2 feet wide
These happy plants begin blooming near the end of bulb season, adding a pop of color right when your garden needs it. Their delicate blue-green foliage also makes a beautiful statement in the garden. And because they grow in many different environments, including moist woodlands and rocky alpines, there's a columbine species for you.
Columbine Care Must-Knows
Columbines are easy-to-grow perennials that need little care. Depending on the species, ideal conditions can vary. Columbine has several alpine species that do best in cool weather and full sun and in well-drained soils. The more common types are usually native to woodlands, and they prefer evenly-moist soils. No columbines like to stay wet for a long period of time—it's a sure way to rot your plants.
It's important to remember that columbines are cool-season perennials and not very fond of hot and humid summers—especially the alpine varieties. If you're growing columbine in a garden setting with hot and humid summers, give them afternoon shade. Some species go dormant in the summer and will grow foliage back in the fall.
Columbines are avid interbreeders, so there are not many new discoveries with this plant. Typically, to find new varieties, plant breeders make crosses with other plants. Most of the columbine species all bloom at the same time, so the plants have no problem crossing with others on their own. This is important to keep in mind because columbines are fairly short-lived perennials that reseed heavily in the garden. Because they may be crossing with others, most seedlings generally don't look much like the immediate parents. Oftentimes, they revert back to simpler types and common colors. If you want to preserve a specific variety, it's best to weed out any unwanted seedlings and to keep the main plant as happy as you can.