How to Grow Aquilegia

Updated November 21, 2016

Aquilegia, also called columbine, is a hardy perennial with attractive, fan-shaped foliage and large, showy blooms. The blooms appear in spring and are available in a variety of shades, including pink, white, red and blue. In fall the foliage turns maroon, adding a splash of colour to the garden well into winter. Aquilegia reaches heights of 1 to 3 feet and takes on a bushlike form. The plants will grow in full sun or partial shade and prefer soil that is well-drained.

Dig a planting hole that is equal to the depth and three times the width of the container the aquilegia was purchased in. Place the roots into the hole at the same level they were growing before and backfill. Tamp the soil down to remove air pockets, and water until the soil is moderately moist.

Add two to three inches of organic mulch to help seal in moisture and prevent weeds. Continue to water anytime the top half-inch of soil feels dry for the first three to four weeks after planting.

Water once each week after the plants are established, unless your region is experiencing drought conditions.

Feed monthly during the growing season with water-soluble fertiliser.

Remove spent flowers to encourage a new wave of blooms. Clip off dead or damaged foliage as you notice it.

Cut the plants back to the ground in fall, after the last of the season's blooms have faded.


Leave a space of one to two feet between each plant. Aquilegia can also be started from seed, though it takes two growing seasons before blooms appear.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden spade
  • Organic mulch
  • Water-soluble fertiliser
  • Pruning shears
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