When/how to cut back Columbine?

sorellina(z5/6 Toronto)July 18, 2005

Ciao all,

I have a whole bunch of columbine growing in partial shade along the side of the house and it's way past blooming with seed pods all over it. What exactly do I do with it now so it's not so...uh...unsightly? My tendency with perennials since I know next to nothing about them is to whack them back to the ground level and call it good. I'd kind of like to know if this is such a good thing to do as I'm trying to, you know, learn something about perennials now ;o)



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Just trim out the dried out seed pods. Leave the foliage intact.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 10:17AM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

I would let them go to seed. Take off any brown leaves that are "unsightly", but let them go to seed so that you can have more next year. I'd capture some of those seeds for planting indoors (or preferably WS next winter) next spring, and also let most of the seeds drop where you'd like some to grow. I do the same for my lupins and other self seeders. I tend to sprinkle the seeds all over, and my garden is so thick, there's not much room for weeds ( or at least I don't see them LOL). It gives that wild English cottage garden look.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 10:18AM
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sorellina(z5/6 Toronto)

Oh great ideas, thanks so much! I had not even thought about the possibility they might self-sow like fennel does.

I have absolutely zero clue about "winter sowing". I'm a California transplant (what's Winter?). After all, fuschias stay outside all year long there and you can grow figs, palms, bananas, and birds of paradise there all year.

I do have a question about sowing annual seeds in Fall. My biggest dilemma in my garden seems to be the bulbs under our pear tree. What the heck does one do once these gorgeous things stop blooming and look, well, unsightly. I'm STILL waiting for the daffodil foliage to dry up so I can cut it to the ground. What I'd LIKE to do is throw a whole bunch of annual butterfly garden seeds out there this Fall at the same time that I'm adding bulbs. My thought is that if I do it then, I won't have to scatter the seed over tulip and daffodil half-dead foliage in hopes of getting a few tiny allysum flowers like I did this year. If I did that, would the snow infestation kill them? Would the salt infestation kill them? Would the heaving ground kill them?

What do you guys do about this issue?


    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 1:27PM
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Well columbines are perennials and therefore return every year. So take note of that when you want more columbines in your yard.

Right now, you can remove the foliage which is very wilted by now anyway, from your daffodil bed. What does one do to deal with the unsightliness. Well, for one, I over layer bulbs in one spot to extend the season. So from one spot I plant differnt bulbs - layering one kind over another, so that I have differnt bulbs which flower in succession. My deepest (8" - 12") may be alliums, followed by darwin type tulips (6" - 8") and daffodils (roughtly same depth), and hyacinths and crocuses and finally smaller alliums. This assures successive blooms in that one location, for a period reaching way int early summer. You can redo the area in the Fall time and top it with your annuals seeds. However, I prefer to seed my wildflower mixes in May for a better survival rate. Allysum are by far one of the easiest & the fastest to grow. Although sometimes, winter will kill off some of the seeds and therefore require a repeat sowing in the next season. Winter heaving doesn't do anything to the plants. Bulbs are used to cold weather and in fact require it. Going back to bulbs. When your last blooms happen and, you could also add annuals such as pansies to mingle among the plants. What this will do is to divert one's eyes from the daffodil/tulips' dying foliage and seeing instead teh blooms from the pansies.

Hope it helps. This is a well established practise of mine and have found it rather pleasing to the eye.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 4:04PM
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Sorellina.... Hi , "snow infestation" Now that cracked me up! If there is one thing you need to get you through a Canadian winter it's a sense of humour. You are going to do just fine, Martha

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 5:00PM
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