The Aguilegia plant are a beautiful plant that is native to European gardens. These plants, also called Columbine plants, come in a vast array of colors. Some are even bi-colored. Columbine flowers are very airy and light. They can grow to heights over 2 feet tall and bloom in late Spring to early Summer.
Columbine plants, once they bloom, will produce seeds immediately if you do not deadhead. This is an important process in growing, caring, and maintaining the Aguilegia plant.
What is Deadhead?
When you deadhead a plant you are actually removing the spent flowers. This is mostly done in annual plants, but some perennials, like the Columbine, need to also have deadheading practice done to them.
Why Deadhead The Aquilegia?
When you do not deadhead the plant, it will prematurely stop producing blooms. The deadheading will actually promote more flowering by the plant. As the growing season progresses into the Summer, and early Fall, if you do not deadhead the flowers, the plant will stop producing any blooms. This will rob your garden of the late season colors it can have.
Deadhead Is Not a Pinchback
Many people like to use the words interchangeably. This is understandable because you are essentially doing the same thing. You are removing a part of the plant so that the energy that would be spent on that portion of the plant can be used elsewhere. However, there is a slight distinction between the two terms. A "pinchback" occurs before there is any flowering of the plant to make the plant bushier rather than taller. A deadhead occurs after the flower has bloomed and faded.
Step One - Wait Until First Blossoms
To deadhead a flower means that you are waiting until the flower has actually blossomed. You want to do it, however, before the seeds begin to produce. You are really trying to trick the flower to produce more flowers, rather than spend its energy producing seeds. There is no set time of year to deadhead your Aguilegia plant, like there is in pruning. You simply wait for the plant to begin producing flowers.
Step Two - Pinch The Blossom Off
With new blossoms, as they begin to bloom into the flowers, you can simply pinch them off with your fingers. However, if the plant has matured for a few years, and has produced many different blooms you will want to use pruning shears. If the blossom does not come off easily, then you will be forces to twist, or tear the flower off. This can lead to a wound in the plant that it has to take more energy to heal than to produce more flowers.
Use the garden shears to make a clean cut just below the blossom. This way, the plant does not have to work very hard to heal, and can produce more blossoms in another part of the plant.
Step Three - Continue Throughout Season
If you stop the deadhead process after only a few weeks, then you will not have fresh blooms through the year. You should continue to do so on a regular basis. It might seem tedious at first, especially if you have a lot of Aguilegia plants, but was the new blooms begin to blossom it will all be worth it.