Aquilegia vulgaris Print

Aquilegia vulgaris (European Columbine, Common Columbine or Granny's Nightcap) is a species of columbine native to Europe.


Aquilegia (Columbine; from Latin columba "dove") is a genus of about 60-70 species of perennial plants that are found in meadows, woodlands,

and at higher altitudes throughout the Northern Hemisphere, known for the spurred petals of their flowers.

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1.2 m tall, with branched, thinly hairy stems. The leaves are pinnate, with the basal leaflets themselves trifoliate.

Cultivars include the Barlow series (Nora Barlow, Black Barlow, Rose Barlow, Christa Barlow), Pretty Bonnets. Seeds may be sold as mixtures.


Buy Aquilegia vulgaris seeds here


Grow Aquilegia Vulgaris from seeds:



Life Cycle: Hardy Perennial (Short lived, replace after 3 years)

Height: 4 to 36 inches (10 to 91 cm)

Native: Northern Hemisphere

Growing Region: Zones 3 to 9

Flowers: Middle of Spring through to the start of Summer



Use flats containing moist soil, wrap in plastic, refrigerate for 18 to 20 days. Remove plastic, sink flat in shady location, Cover flat with glass. Transplant seedlings to final location as they appear.

Germination time 1 to 3 months. Transplant to final location following the last frost. Space small species 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) apart; Large species should be spaced at 16 to 20 inches (40 to 50 cm).

Requires: Best results in partly shaded conditions. Can be grown in full Sunlight in cooler areas. Provide with a winter mulch. Soil pH 5.5 to 7, Good drainage, Moist, Humus rich soils, Regular watering, Deadhead, Stake tall varieties. Susceptible to leaf miner, remove infected leaves.

How to grow Columbine

It is best to start Aquilega off indoors. Seeds should be imbibed for three weeks; this can be achieved by sowing the seeds in moist soil in flats and then placing in the fridge. Following germination the flat should be sunk into the ground in a shady location in spring.

Once seedlings begin to appear they should be transplanted. If growing to the seedling stage indoors they should be sown out with a spacing of fifteen to thirty centimeters for smaller varieties and with a spacing of approximately 40 to 60 centimeters for larger varieties.

Aquilega should be sown out after the last frost of spring. Aquilega has a preference for shady conditions but is able to survive in full sunlight in mild areas. The ideal soil type should be humus rich, well drained and with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0.

Caring for Columbine

The seedlings of the Columbine plant are very delicate, it is therefore very important to treat them gently when transplanting; they should be kept moist and out of full sunlight. Aquilega should be deadheaded to enable continue blooming throughout its flowering season (see above). Taller varieties should be staked, and short lived varieties should be replanted every three or four years.


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