Aquilegia is a hardy perennial known commonly as Columbine. The genus includes 60-70 species, including many that are native to Canadian woodlands and forests. They are best known for the exceptionally deep nectar-bearing spurs that jut backwards from each flower. These are enjoyed by moths, bumblebee, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Continue reading below for some top tips on how to grow Columbine from seed.

Aquilegia ssp.
Family: Ranunculaceae


Season & Zone
Exposure: Partial shade – full sun is tolerated where summers are cool
Zone: Hardy to Zone 3

Direct sow in autumn or mid-winter. Seeds can be started indoors, but it’s more complicated: Sow seeds in flats of moistened, sterilized seed starting mix, and place these inside plastic bags in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Then sink the flats outdoors in the ground in a shady spot, and cover with glass. As seedlings appear, transplant them or pot them on. Germination takes 30-90 days.

Sow on the soil surface and transplant or thin seedlings to 30-50cm (12-20″) apart.

Seedlings are easy to move, but delicate. Keep them out of strong sunlight, and water frequently, but gently. Deadhead regularly to prolong the blooming period. Columbine’s flowers are followed by distinctive seed pods that open on their own when the seeds are ripe. These can be removed to prevent self sowing, or for very easy harvest of the seeds. We like to harvest Columbine seeds mid-summer and spread them in any shady spot that could use some colour. Grow Columbine in humus-rich, moist, but well-drained soil.