Growing Columbine Flowers in Containers
Also known as Aquilegia, columbine flowers are delicate yet hardy perennials native to Europe, North America, and Asia. They can reach a height of 15 to 20 inches tall with flowers in red, white, purple, pink or blue. These low maintenance flowers add a splash of color when planted inside or outdoors, and are a favorite with fluttering hummingbirds that feed on their nectar.
Columbines bloom in mid to late spring or early summer, but you can plant them in containers in late winter to get a head start of this beautiful flower. Keep these steps in mind to successfully grow columbine flowers in containers.
Step 1 - Purchase and Sow Seeds
Purchase columbine seeds and peat pots from your local nursery or garden supply center. Columbines have a long taproot and will need to be transplanted to bigger pots after they germinate.
Columbine flowers require well-drained soil, so fill the pots with good quality potting soil until a few inches below the rim. Plant a few seeds per pot, and lightly cover them with soil to ensure good seed to soil contact. Planting them too deep will prevent germination.
Step 2 - Provide Optimal Conditions for Germination
Water the seeds frequently to ensure the soil is evenly moist. Keep the pots in a window that gets filtered sunlight to shade. Avoid placing them in a southward facing window where sunlight is the strongest. Germination occurs in 20 days to a month.
Step 3 - Transplant Columbines
Once the flowers are several inches high, you can transplant them. Plant individual flowers in medium-sized containers, or group several together if the container is large, spacing them 14 to 18 inches apart. Choose containers of your choice from clay, plastic, wood, stone or any material that looks aesthetically pleasing indoors and compliments the columbines. You will have to drill holes in their base if they lack adequate drainage holes, and place ceramic plates under them that will collect drained water.
Fill each container with good quality potting soil. Carefully remove the small columbines from the peat pot and place it in the middle of the container, spreading their roots to encourage them to grow.
Step 4 - Care for the Columbines
Water the containers frequently, until water drains from the holes and collects in the ceramic plates. Although mulching is not necessary, applying a layer will retain moisture, keep the roots cool and enhance the look of the container. Do not place them in direct sunlight. Keep the containers in a shaded patio or near a window with a blind to filter the sunlight. Feed the columbines with a liquid fertilizer twice during the growing season to have healthy roots and flowers.
Pinch off faded flowers or seed heads to prolong bloom season. Spray your columbines with a mild insecticide if aphids become a problem, and remove snails or slugs by picking them off with tweezers. Leaf miners, or leaves with marks in them, can ruin the appearance of your columbines. Promptly remove and discard any leaves you notice with marks. Cover containers with mulch or straw after the first frost and all through the winter to prevent them from freezing.