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How to Care for a Columbine Origami Plant

By Janet Belding ; Updated September 21, 2017

The Origami series of columbines (Aquilegia) produce long-flowering blooms in a solid yellow or pink, red or blue paired with white. Reaching a height of 18 inches, these plants are shorter than many columbines. "Origami Blue and White" and the other named varieties, which are available in container form, leave no doubt as to their color. But seeds are generically labeled as "Origami Mix" and produce blooms in solid yellow or white or bi-color pink, rose, red or yellow. Origami Mix columbines aren't a mystery for long, as they flower the first year. Whether planting seeds or nursery plants, columbine Origami plants have similar care requirements. These plants are hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 to 8.

Starting From Seed

Fill pots with planting mix. Press down lightly. The surface of the soil should reach 3/4 inch from the top of the container. Mist the planting mix lightly with the water.

Plant one seed to each pot, just barely covering each one with the planting mix. Mist the seeds with water and cover each pot with the plastic wrap. Move the pots to a location away from the sunlight.

Bring the pots to a sunny window after the seeds sprout and remove the plastic wrap. Mist the seedlings lightly with water, but do not overwater or allow the planting mix to dry out.

Move the seedlings outdoors when the plants have two sets of true leaves. Do not count the first pair of leaves, as they are not true. Acclimate the seedlings to the higher light levels before transplanting.

Choose a site in the sun or part shade. Loosen the existing soil. The soil should be well-drained but loamy. Amend with compost or other organic material as needed. The soil should be able to hold some moisture.

Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than each pot. Gently tap out the plant from the bottom of the pot, keeping one hand underneath to catch the plant. Take care when performing this step, as sometimes the soil will fall away from the fragile roots. Set in the hole and gently tamp the soil down around the plant.

Water each plant after planting and check the plants daily for the first few weeks and frequently throughout the season. Water the plants as necessary. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage further blooming.

Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer mixed with water three times during active growth periods.

Mulch with leaves or straw for the first winter. Remove any diseased foliage in the fall to prevent insects and pathogens from wintering over.

Container Plants

Choose a planting location in the sun or part shade. Loosen the existing soil. Amend with compost or other organic material as needed to create a loamy soil that can hold some moisture.

Dig a hole twice as wide as the pot your columbine is in and approximately 6 to 8 inches deeper. Add planting mix in the hole as well as some of the existing soil. Water the mixture and allow the water to drain.

Remove the columbine from its container, carefully loosening any roots that are tight in the pot. Place the plant in the soil and backfill. Tamp the soil down gently around the rootball of the plant, centering and lifting as necessary. The columbine should be planted at the same level it was in the pot.

Water the plant well. Water every other day for the first week and closely monitor the water situation for the first season.

Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer mixed with water three times during active growth periods.

Deadhead the spent flowers and remove any dry or diseased foliage.

Mulch with leaves or straw the first winter. Remove any diseased foliage in the fall to prevent insects and pathogens from wintering over.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Small pots with drainage
  • Seed planting mix
  • Misting bottle
  • Plastic wrap
  • Origami columbine variety seeds or seedlings
  • Shovel or spade
  • Liquid fertilizer
  • Garden scissors
  • Mulch

Tips

  • Origami columbines can bloom for three months.
  • Origami Mix seeds don't require the three-month period of chilling that other types do.
  • Sow seeds outside in the fall for spring bloom.

Warnings

  • Columbines are usually not long-lived, lasting approximately 3 years.
  • Plants resulting from self-seeding won't be true to the parents.
  • Columbines are poisonous, according to the Poisonous Plants Database. Wash hands after handling and keep away from children.

About the Author

 

Janet Belding has been writing for over 22 years. She has had nonfiction pieces published in "The Boston Globe," "The Cape Cod Times" and other local publications. She is a writer for the guidebook "Cape Cod Pride Pages." Her fiction has been published in "Glimmer Train Stories." She has a degree in English from the University of Vermont.