The Q&A Archives: Columbine

Question: I've had beautiful Columbine flowers all spring. What do I do with them when they finish blooming or at the end of the summer? Also, I've heard that if you mix the type that "face up" with the "drooping" type, they will all revert to the drooping type - is that correct? Can't remember where I read it. (I'm afraid now to plant some I found at a local nursery because they looked healthy, but were not labeled as to what kind they were.)

Answer: To prolong the bloom season, cut down the flowering stalks when the flowers are spent, before seed pods form. After frost kills the tops of the plants, remove the foliage and mulch the crowns of the plants to protect them during the winter months. Columbines are short-lived perennials and should be replaced every 3-4 years. It is not true that Columbine species will change their flowering habits when planted close to other species, but since the plants will self-sow if allowed, the new plants may be hybridized offspring from two different species. This may be annoying if you prefer one species over another - but it could be fun to see what new hybrids you can create!

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