Columbine flowers, perennials also known by their scientific name of Aquilegia, are available in numerous varieties ranging from one to four feet in height. With their many colors and long-spurred flowers, columbine flowers are often found in borders or beds.
When it comes to transplanting, there are two basic types: transplanting mature plants and transplanting newly-seeded columbine flowers. Transplanting those grown from seed are the easiest and usually are the most successful.
Thinning and Transplanting
Whether seeds for columbine flowers are sown directly outside or grown indoors prior to setting out, once the seedlings have reached two to four inches high, thin them out and transplant to an outdoor location (weather permitting) so that they are 12 to 18 inches apart.
Remember that these seedlings will eventually reach their mature height of one to four feet, depending on the variety. It’s important to place them properly in the garden landscape so that they can achieve their full potential. Therefore, ensure they have adequate shade and plenty of moisture, keep them weeded, deadhead spent blooms, and apply fertilizer regularly.
Transplanting Established Columbine Flowers
Most garden experts caution that small columbine flower plants do not transplant well. If these flowers are to be transplanted, wait until they are well-established so that they can withstand the transplant shock. If it becomes necessary to move columbine flowers, do so in late spring. Be sure to keep the plant well watered.
Note that many varieties of columbine flowers are prolific self-seeders. These plants can quickly overtake an area, so plant with caution - or be prepared to thin them out and take your chances elsewhere with the extra crop. Another idea is to give some to a neighbor for their garden.
As for soil, columbine flowers like a moist, well-drained soil. Replant the root clusters in rich soil, even though they can survive in everything from clay-loamy soil to riverbank soil to sand. Add organic amendments to enrich poor soils and keep thoroughly watered, especially during the heat of summer.
If newly transplanted columbine flowers go into transplant shock, give them a few days, while regularly watering. Most will recuperate nicely.
Be aware that some varieties of columbine flowers live only about three to four years. At that time, they should be dug up and replaced with new plants, or seedlings that are ready for setting outdoors.
Tips for Transplanted Columbine Flowers
To ensure vigorous health and long-lasting blooming period, give newly-transplanted columbine flowers the following attention:
- Weed regularly
- Deadhead spent blooms
- Prune dead or diseased portions and discard in the trash
- Fertilize monthly with all-purpose (5-10-5) fertilizer
- Mulch in fall with hay or straw to provide winter protection from alternating freeze and thaw and extreme temperature swings
- Prevent diseases and pests with appropriate fungicide or herbicide
- Water from below, never above the plants
With a little planning and regular care, columbine flowers will reward the home gardener with a near-nonstop display of colorful and graceful blooms. In addition, columbine flowers attract hummingbirds, so they provide additional visual interest in borders, rock gardens, and beds.