Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Olivier
The columbine--scientific name Aquikegia--is a colourful perennial prized by gardeners for its delicate flowers, its blue-green foliage and its ability to attract hummingbirds. The way in which it disperses its seeds is somewhat unusual.
Columbines Self-Propagate Well
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Columbines propagate naturally by propelling seeds away from the plant to other locations in the garden. So this can be allowed to happen naturally, knowledgeable gardeners do not deadhead their columbines.
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Mikul
While deadheading other plants--pinching off spent blooms-- tends to promote growth and blossom production, in the case of columbines, which release their seeds after blooming, removing dead blossoms would also remove the seed pod.
Unlike many flowers, columbines have a seed pod that faces upwards so seeds do not drop directly to the ground. Columbines share this feature with poppies, evening primrose and several wild flowers.
In order to disperse its seeds, the columbine needs enough wind to tip the seeds out of its seedpod. The stalk holding the seedpod is bent on an angle that makes it likely that when there is enough wind to bend the stalk, the seeds will fall away from the plant.
A Plus For Gardeners
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of "中十洋
This feature of columbines allows gardeners to plan for natural expansion of the flower bed. It is helpful to rake the soil around the bed to allow falling seeds to take hold more easily.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Olivier