The star-shaped flowers of the columbine are attractive in beds and borders, containers, or in rock gardens. They bloom in a variety of colors, including blue, yellow and red. Columbines attract hummingbirds to the garden, but deer and other pests usually leave them alone. As perennial flowers, columbine also readily self-seed themselves in their bed, so each year usually brings more flowers than the year before. Starting columbine from seeds is an inexpensive alternative to purchasing nursery-grown seedlings.
Fill seed-starting pots with moist potting soil, leaving ½ inch between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot. Set the pots in a seed-starting tray to catch water drips.
Sow two seeds per pot, planting the seeds ¼ inch deep in the soil. Cover the top of the pots with plastic wrap to help maintain moisture, then place them in the refrigerator or outside. Cold temperatures, around 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, are required to break seed dormancy.
Remove the pots from the refrigerator or bring them indoors. Remove the plastic wrap and water if the soil feels dry to the touch. Replace the plastic and set the pots in a 70- to 75-degree-Fahrenheit room to germinate.
Remove the plastic wrap once sprouts appear, usually within three weeks of cold treatment. Place the pots in a sunny window sill and water when the soil begins to feel dry.
Transplant columbine seedlings outdoors two weeks before the last expected spring frost in your area. Plant the seedlings in a well-drained, full-sun garden bed at the same depth they were at in their seeding pots.