Colorado school children nominated the Rocky Mountain columbine as their favorite flower in the year 1891. Out of the 22,316 votes that were cast, 14,472 went to the Rocky Mountain columbine.
Columbine, also called Granny's Bonnet, is a genus of beautiful and colorful flowers. Its scientific name is Aquilegia
, derived from the Latin word 'aquila', which means eagle, as its petals resemble an eagle's claw. The flower is bell-shaped and has distinctive spurred petals. There are more than 60 - 70 species of this genus. This evergreen perennial blooms in many attractive shades of red, blue, pink, purple, white, and yellow. It easily grows in fertile, well-drained soil and is very low on maintenance as well. It can be a very good addition for your garden. It grows to around 2 feet in height and blooms in the late spring to early summer. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 3 - 9. Some species are native to certain regions of America, but it can grow in the northern as well as southern regions. It also shows excellent drought resistance, which makes it perfect for rock gardens or woodland gardens. Columbines have a short lifespan of 3 to 4 years.
How to Grow
: The most important step is to choose a suitable location. Ideally, it should get full sun in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon.
: The soil should be rich in nutrients and well-drained. It should be slightly moist, but not soggy.
: The seeds should be kept in the refrigerator for 3 - 4 weeks before planting. Then move them to around 70 - 75 degrees, where they will germinate. Sow the seeds in your garden anytime between early spring to mid-summer. There's no need to cover them, as long as they receive plenty of light.
: You can also plant pre-established plants directly, around the same time. Ensure that the plants are placed at least 1 - 2 feet apart. It will take a year for blooms to appear on seed-grown plants.
How to Care
: In the beginning, it is very important to keep the plants moist. Once they are well established, weekly watering is sufficient.
: It is best to use a water-soluble fertilizer monthly. Fertilizing will give your plant thicker foliage and brighter flowers.
: Deadheading is a process in which dead flowers are removed from the plant to facilitate additional blooming. Columbines are prolific self-seeders; so not deadheading them will give you many replacements.
: Leaf miners can be a problem for columbines. They are larva of an insect, which eats plant tissue. They damage the leaf by causing winding tunnels on leaf surface. Using neem oil on the plants is an excellent way of controlling these pests. Pruning the plants just after blooming can be effective as well.
: Columbine is also susceptible to a fungal disease called powdery mildew. It is very difficult to control this disease. The only option is to cut off the affected part.
Inverted columbine flower resembling a cluster of doves
The name columbine means "dove" in Latin. The upturned flower resembles five doves clustered together.
Columbines represent seduction and anxious excitement.
These flowers are a delight for bird watchers, as they are the favorite flowers of the hummingbird. The hummingbird is its top pollinator, as the bird's long tongue and bill helps it to reach the flower's nectar.
The flowers are edible and have a very sweet taste.
Native Americans used its root as a herbal remedy for treatment of ulcers. The flowers of some species were used as condiments. But medical use of these plants should be avoided, as they are very toxic, and columbine poisonings can be fatal.
Rocky Mountain columbine, state flower of Colorado
It is illegal to uproot a columbine flower on public land, and without the consent of the owner on private land.
Easy to grow and maintain, columbine flowers are beautiful, and will make your garden very colorful and attractive. With little effort from your end, you will get an amazing bloom.