Question re aquilegia from seed

kitkat_oregon(7)May 3, 2010

I sowed some aquilegia seed from some plants earlier this spring from seed collected after the winter, so I assumed that the stratification process necessary for germination would already have taken place. I sowed the seed and placed the flat in the green house. I have no germination at all. Does the stratification process need to start again once the seed has been sown, hence the time suggested in the fridge? Or is my seed no good? I did transplant a whole bunch of little self sown seedlings which are doing great but I wanted a whole lot more.

Another question for those of you who grow this for cuts, which is your favorite blue? Which is your favorite variety for cuts? I have a white here, I dont know the name, but boy is it prolific and really long lasting. I would love a blue.

Thanks in advance.


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How old the seed is and how it was stored has a great impact on its viability.
I don't know if the columbine seed needs to be stratified. I believe I've sprouted it withhout stratifying it. I don't remember.
One thing I'm doing now is winter sowing seeds. It provides the stratification.
My favorite cut is a yellow aquilegia called swallowtail.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 1:02AM
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neil_allen(z5/6 Chi IL)

I suspect that your seeds should be sown at refrigerator temperature (or outside in early spring) and need cold, moist conditions to germinate -- and even then, the germination may take a while and be irregular. You can also gather the seeds in the summer or fall, when the seed cases are brown, and just toss them around an area where you want them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tom Clothier's Germination Database

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 7:47AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I usually winter sow my aquilegia seeds (well, I WS all my seeds!) and I find I get hit-or-miss germination. Some years I get not a single seedling, others I get phenomenal results.

I've never used them for cuts. I have seen that yellow swallowtail and it is indeed beautiful. Maybe I'll try cutting a few blooms this spring.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 2:15PM
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Thanks for all the input. I actually have got some germination now. The seeds were from a plant that went to seed last year and did not shed them completely. So, I assumed, that they had gone through the stratification process by virtue of the winter months and I think I was probably right. This particular variety, unknown to me, is a white, and is a great cut. I broke off a main stem by mistake, stuck it in a vase with some tulips and the tight buds opened and lasted in the vase for over a week. I also love the foliage, light, lacy and a brighter green.
I will look into the yellow swallowtail. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 1:27AM
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teresa_b(z6 MO)

I have also decided to try more aquilegia next year. I have a yellow which is great--it may be yellow swallowtail. I am trying to find a pink and white which seems tougher to find than blue and white. I have so many blue flowers now, I am in blue flower overload and need some other colors. It is too late to sow here in Missouri as it is now warm so I must figure out if sowing in the Fall would provide the vernalization so I can have blooms next year.

Swallowtail Seeds has a large selection of aquilegia seeds with photos.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 9:53AM
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Teresa, do you start more of your yellow from seed? If so, would you be interested in trading some white for some yellow. I usually have a billion seeds from the white at the end of the season. If so, let me know. Thanks for the Swallowtail Seeds connect, I like that company.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 10:45PM
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magz88(5a - Central Ontario)

Aquilegia will germinate in temperatures up to about 25 or so in my experience.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:39AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hi I don't usually post here, but love Columbine and start a lot from seed. It is SO pretty and it's usually the first plant I see the hummers use when they come back.

Last year I purchased 5 types of Swallowtail Aquilegia seeds - 'Rose Queen', and Origami series 'White', 'Blue & White', 'Pink & White', and 'Yellow'. Ended up with a dozen or so seedlings, at least one of each variety, and the only ones that did well were 2 yellows and 1 white. The rest perished over the winter or were very puny. I was not happy with the performance of these seeds although one of the yellows was truly gorgeous (still looks good but a little past peak).

Last year I also started Aquilegia caerulea 'Mixed colors' from Everwilde seed, and purchased some McKanas Giants seedlings at my son's high school plant sale. Both of these did much better surviving the winter with zero losses and they're blooming like crazy.

I like these 2 so much I bought some McKana Giants seed, and sowed more of both be sure there are plenty of blooms for next year too. Sowed 5 solo cups on April 28th, and they had all sprouted as of yesterday. They might have gotten some cold stratification, but not much since really and they sprouted fine.

Here are some pics from this year. Don't have any good pics of the A. caerulea yet, it's blooming later than these guys. But it's taller than these varieties with longer stems and fewer overall blooms.

Aquilegia Mckana Giants -

Also Mckana Giants -

Origami 'Yellow' -

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:57AM
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magz88(5a - Central Ontario)

Those are very beautiful terrene! I really like the colours in the first pic.

Mine are just starting to open. It seems that like many perennials they are best in their second year of blooming on. I have one in the front that is in it's second year and it is a lot flashier than the first year blooms.

I am planning on having about 350 for next spring. I will try to get a pic up shortly.

They last well in the vase so far.

I cut a test bunch last Friday. Yesterday I pulled off two blooms and had some petal fall this morning. Almost all of the buds that were closed when I picked have opened so it is actually prettier now. I am pretty sure it will look good tomorrow night and I only require my bouquets to last 7 days to consider them 'good'.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 4:24PM
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magz88(5a - Central Ontario)

Here are what I cut today for bunches - you can't see some of the William Guiness doubles.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:11PM
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wow beautiful flowers. I started one plant from seed about 2 years ago-still no flowers. I had purchased the seeds tho, I am going to try harvesting from my many plants.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 9:58AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I don't grow for cutting, but I've been around Gardenweb for more that 10 years and read what everyone writes. It seems to me that Aquilegia seeds germinate best when they are fresh. The growers with the best results are those that harvest seed and toss them onto the ground immediately. They get small seedlings that apparently survive the winter and are able to come back the next year. I don't know whether they are able to bloom that first spring, but if you keep tossing down seeds, you should have some blooming every year. I would suggest trading with one another for the seeds you want as soon as any are ripe, and planting them immediately. You could "summer sow" them in a milk jug for a better idea of the germination rate, and leave the jug out for the winter to see if you get any additional sprouts following the stratification process.

Actually, if anyone has extra seeds, I'd be grateful for any you could spare. I'm in a new yard this year that has a lot more shade than I was counting on. So, I'm converting my gardening style over to shade loving, and I'm in the process of building up my collection. I purchased some purple columbine, but there were no seeds in the pods. I'll go update my trade list.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:31AM
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