The columbine flower is a popular evergreen perennial that blooms in various attractive shades of white, yellow, pink, purple, blue and violet. These are an ideal choice for flower beds, rock gardens and borders. Columbines are some of the easiest flowers to grow and maintain. You can propagate from direct seeding in your flower garden. They thrive in fertile, well-drained soils. The best site to plant is one that receives morning sun and has afternoon shade. It is best to sow seeds in the spring and cover lightly with soil. Leave enough space in between plant rows because columbines grow in clusters with multiple stems. The guide below gives simple care instructions.
Give your columbines adequate water, particularly during the early growing phase. This will encourage healthy growth and proper establishment of the deep tap root system. Regular watering is also helpful as it checks aphid infestation and attacks of powdery mildew. Maintain moist soils for your columbines at all times. Give water twice a week but less if you receive reliable rainfall. Hot summer days, periods of drought or when rainfall is scarce will necessitate frequent watering. Be careful not to give excessive water as it will reduce the life span of your columbines.
When planting, it is best to add some organic manure or compost into the soil to help boost nutrient content. Thereafter, you should apply fertilizer twice each spring, summer and fall. You need not fertilize in the winter as the plants tend to be dormant. Maintain fertilizer application once the plants are established. This will help ensure abundant stemming and prolific growth of foliage. An all-purpose plant food works best for columbine flowers.
Mulch your columbine plants in the spring through the fall. You need not mulch in the winter as the plants are fairly hardy. Use an organic mulch to help add to the soil nutrients. Mulch will also help to conserve soil moisture, making watering less of a routine practice. Straw, chopped leaves or shredded bark make good mulch. Spread 2 to 3 inches around the plants. Do not pack close to the stems as it will encourage fungal infections. Rodents may also be attracted to nestle in the mulch and feed on the stems. Leave about 4 inches of space around the stems to encourage good air circulation.
Prune your columbines in the spring or late fall. Trim early in the spring before the plants come out of winter dormancy. Otherwise, prune late in the fall after the first frost. The plant has several tall stems that branch off from the base. Cut back stems that have fading flowers. Or simply pinch off flowers with your fingers. Pluck off leaves that are turning yellow, especially as winter approaches. Columbines are frequently attacked by leaf miners. Prune any foliage that shows signs of infestation. Dispose of infected leaves by burning to help check the spread.