The Q&A Archives: New Hybrid of Columbine

Question: Early this week I had a unexpected surprise in my garden. A wonderful, and very different looking columbine. I have checked with several local nurseries and the all have told me that it is new. How do I go about collecting the seeds and naming the new plant?

Answer: It's always fun to have a brand new hybrid pop up in your garden! Some species of Columbine have nodding flowers and some have upright flowers. Some have long spurs and others have short spurs. There are even species with single colored flowers and some with double colored flowers. When different species are grown close together they sometimes produce hybridized offspring. That's what you have growing in your garden. There's no guarantee that the seeds of these plants will produce similar looking plants if you save them and sow them next spring - they may cross again with another hybrid and have a completely different look. The only way to assure that the seeds will produce a plant similar to the parent is to isolate the flowers and hand pollinate them, then protect them from visiting insects by covering with something like floating row cover. It's a lot of work, but it can be done. While it's exciting to have a new hybrid in your garden, it's likely that a similar cross has happened in other gardens across the nation. Enjoy your new flowers!

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