Starting Aquilegia canadensis (columbine) from seed or root?

wilsocnMarch 31, 2013

My favorite wildflower is the columbine plant. I started one from seed last year and it is growing well. I expect that it will flower this year but it isnt the native variety.

I cant find the seeds locally but I saw that they sell a little packet at Lowes with what I suppose is a dormant root and it is the native species. Will it grow more quickly and flower sooner rather than starting from seed?

I dont have any experience with planting just the roots. Do they take well? Are there any advantages to planting this way?

Thanks everyone

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IF you get one of those roots, and IF you plant it right away, you might get a plant. The roots I see at those Big Box stores are usually about 1/2 dead. They get them in in Feb and let them wither.

Seeds from A. canadensis are usually available from people with a trade list on these boards. Doing a search for them will also yield a bunch of results. Once you have some, they are usually self sowing if the conditions are right. (Well draining soil, sort of humus-y, some shade appreciated.)

Sometimes seeds sown in early spring bloom late summer, most times not until early the following year. And yes, a good healthy root transplant almost always blooms the year you plant it. I bet a decent nursery in your area has some already in a pot so that you don't have to depend on bare roots of questionable quality from a mass merchandiser. If you do decide to go the Lowes/HD route, make sure the roots you get are pliable and have some foliage emerging from the top. Here in Z6 (PA), the first leaves are already emerging on my outside plants. Indoor roots should have a whole green crown to show.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 9:54AM
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Research the souce of the little packet. Over the years, there have been plenty of postings on GW that indicate these plants are dug from the wild, a no-no for most native enthusiasts. (We do rescues when the site is condemed for road bulding, etc., but that is not a commercial venture.)

Columbine is so easy to grow from seed. You can winter sow or put them under grow lights for a head start. If you have water, you can just direct sow. I usually do not direct sow as our summers are so hot and dry, and the seedlings cannot survive without extra water.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 10:00AM
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If you can find a plant, that is the way to go. Once you have a growing, blooming plant, it will reseed for you and colonize well. I remember planting a huge package of seed that I ordered from a wildflower seed nursery scattered it where I thought they should grow, and got not one plant. Once I started with a growing plant, I found that they reseed like weeds.

And the local nursery where I work has them for sale, because I have dug my many extra plants and potted them to sell. You might get lucky with a nursery in your area or from a garden club member who is doing as I do and sharing extra plants.

I don't think I would trust a big box store plant unless I knew for sure it was alive. (And I HAVE torn open a package in front of a clerk at the checkout as I explained that I was not going to buy something if it wasn't alive.Once I had to tear open 4 packages before I found a live plant.)


    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 9:51PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

Last year I grew a. canadensis from seed and a. chrysantha from a starter plant - no surprise, the difference is still substantial. You'll fill a space sooner from the root stock IF it grows. But think Dzitmoidonc is right that viability is probably falling off rapidly by this time on the shelf.

In fairness to the big box stores, you should check their return policy. Ones around here were offering 1 year return even on the bagged plants last time I checked.... of course, this may vary by location and would only be good if you don't mind keeping up with the package and receipt.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 12:36PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Winter sowing is a great way to get a number of these plants started for very little. If you don't like to wait for blooms, check local or online nurseries that sell native plants. Of course you can do a little of both too! I have.

I included the link for Prairie Moon's product page for these plants. They are a wonderful place to get native plants from.


Here is a link that might be useful: Prairie Moon

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 5:33PM
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Sorry for just now checking back in. I got busy and forgot all about this thread for a while. I think I will just stick with a seed packet since you get more for the money anyway I suppose.

The wait doesnt bother me all that much either since I grow cactus. Having something go from seed to bloom in only a year seems really fast after growing things with spines. :P

Thanks everyone

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 4:54AM
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