How to Care for Columbines
image by bella731: Flickr.com
Columbines are a genus of flowering perennials that grow in most regions in the Northern Hemisphere. They produce small, bell-shaped flowers that are commonly two-toned and blue, red, yellow, white or purple in color. Columbines can grow up to 3 feet high and bloom in late spring and early summer. With proper care and maintenance, columbines can survive for up to 5 years.
Choose a planting location that receives 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Use a fertile, high drainage soil that does not collect pockets of standing water. Plant in early spring, after the soil has warmed to a workable temperature.
Water columbines once a week, or when the top 1/2 inch of soil is completely dry. Apply enough water to thoroughly soak the soil. Reduce watering to once per month during winter, or the roots may freeze.
Fertilize the soil in late winter before growth begins in spring, and again in early fall. Use a slow release fertilizer to properly supplement columbines without causing root burn from excessive levels of nitrogen. Follow the manufacturer's directions for proper application.
Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch on the soil surrounding the columbines. This will help conserve moisture and slowly add nutrients to the soil as the mulch decomposes. Ensure that no mulch comes within 3 inches of the stem, so that growth is not inhibited.
Cut back the columbines to a height of 2 to 3 inches after the flowers have died. This will prevent the plant from becoming leggy, and the entire plant will regrow the following spring with an emphasis on flower formation.