Aquilegia vulgaris – Bedding Bestie

One of the sweetest flowers in spring gardens is the Aquilegia. Commonly known as Columbine or Granny's Bonnet, these plants have an airy appearance, with small, rounded leaves and tall flower stalks that hold the beautiful blooms above the foliage. 

Aquilegia's bell-shaped flowers, with spurred petals, are popular with butterflies, bees, and gardeners. Blooming profusely for at least 4 – 6 weeks, the mid-spring blooms fill the void between early spring bulbs and peak garden season. There are many colourful hybrids or varieties to choose from in a wide array of colours including blue, orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow.

Aquilegia is a hardy perennial, which propagates by seed. Size can vary greatly, with dwarf varieties that don’t get much taller than 10 – 15cm and taller varieties easily reaching 90cm

Aquilegia performs best in full sun to partial shade, in well-drained soil. Can tolerate average soils and dry soil conditions. It is easy to grow and widely adaptable making it a welcome addition to beds, borders, rockeries and shady gardens. You may also plant Aquilegia in containers, but they will require regular watering.

You can start Aquilegia flowers from seed or plant. Seeds can be direct sown throughout spring. The seeds need light to germinate, so simply press them on the soil surface and barely cover with soil.  For quicker results, plant seedlings.

New seedling plants will need to be kept moist until they become established. You'll know they are established when they start putting out a lot of new growth. Even then, keep your Aquilegia plants well-watered during dry spells – they will be happiest in gardens that have an automatic irrigation system. These plants are sensitive to high temperatures, and cooler weather will produce more flowers.

Encourage additional flowering by deadheading the plant regularly to get rid of faded blooms.  Monthly fertilizing of the plant will also increase flowering and flower size.

For more gardening tips and advice pop in to your nearest GCA Garden Centre, https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/category/garden-centres/   or join the conversation on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa .

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