Columbine Flower Pruning Tips

What You'll Need
Lightweight pruning scissors
Bypass pruners
Hedge shears

The columbine flower is a part of the perennial, columbine bloom. Columbines are usually grown as ornamental plants. Columbines are easy-to-grow plants and their spring-season bloom is very popular, especially to create landscaped borders in household gardens. While columbines are resistant to both drought and wet conditions, they do need some degree of seasonal maintenance in the form of pruning. A proper pruning regimen ensures that the columbine bloom sustains itself for a longer period.

Pruning Basics

Columbine stems are taller and faster growing than that of most flowering plants. Therefore, excessive branching and formation of clustered stems is common among columbines. To avoid this, columbines should be pruned during the onset of every season and periodically thereafter if excessive intertwining is visible. The flowers bloom on top of the leafy foliage, near the top-end of the stems. Thus, precisely pruning the columbine flowers becomes a demanding task. To resolve this issue, selection of the right pruning gear is critical.

Pruning Gear:

  • Lightweight pruning scissors for regular, selective pruning
  • Bypass pruners for minimal deadheading (cutting-back)
  • Hedge shears for intensive pruning (seasonal pruning)

Use the following tips to prune your columbines:

Seasonal Pruning

If the columbine flowerbed is propagating excessively, prune heavily to arrest the growth pattern. You should prune the flowers during the fall season to limit self-seeding in the columbine flowers. However, if you want to spread the columbines, prune them during the onset of spring season. For pruning younger columbines, hedge shears are recommended. They are particularly suited for selectively pruning flowers around the basal foliage. If you are pruning during the spring season, wait a few weeks for the flowers to sprout. Among columbines, spring season blooming is delayed, so you need to wait for some time.

Pruning Method

You can prune the flowers and stem together if seasonal weathering has taken a toll on your columbines. Use pruning scissors to cut-off the spent flowers. To prune the stem, use the bypass pruners to split the stem down to its joint with the main branch. Ensure that you take the cut up to the basal part of the stem and leave some green foliage towards the end. You should not use the Anvil-type pruners for this purpose as they can crush upon the young buds. Hand-held shears can be used for pruning aged stems, but they are rarely used for pruning columbines. For shaping your columbine spread (selective pruning) manually picking the flowers is useful. When pinching-off the flowers, be careful no to harm the young buds.

Pruning Precautions

You should never prune off the leafy foliage around the basal stem. This could interfere with the fundamental survival mechanism of the plant. The buds are often mistaken for seedpods and pruned. This could drastically reduce the flowering pattern. You should understand that perennial flowering plants like columbine don’t need intensive but sustained pruning. Columbine garden beds propagate through a quick, self-seeding system. The presence of some aged flowers is vital to ensure that the seeding mechanism is sustained. Therefore, exhaustive deadheading is not advisable. Flowers showing minimal signs of aging, like a slightly bent appearance, shouldn't be pruned. Even if the winter frost has destroyed the flowers, don’t prune them immediately. Let these flowers to dieback to some extent and then cut-off the flowers from the uppermost section.