Growing Tips: Columbine

Quick Reference:

Perennial, a plant that usually does not flower until the second season and lives and flowers for multiple seasons thereafter. Germinates in 21 to 25 days with a optimum soil temperature of 70 to 85 degrees F. DO NOT cover the seed with soil, requires light to germinate. Seed spacing ½ to ¾ inches. Plant spacing in the garden, 16 to 24 inches. Plant height: 2 ½ to 3 ½ feet.

Where to plant:

Columbine likes partial shade but will tolerate full sun where the summers are cool, requires a rich, well drained soil and prefers cool weather.

When and where to plant:

It is recommended that columbine seed be started indoors in a container because the seed is fine, the tiny seedlings are delicate and the environment is easier to control. Fill a container that has drainage holes with a sterilized potting soil, sprinkle seed on soil surface, DO NOT COVER, germination is improved with light and water well for good seed-soil contact. To improve germination cover the container with clear plastic and place it in a refrigerator for three weeks. After the cold period set the container in bright light, keep moist and remove the plastic as soon as the seedlings begin to sprout. As the seedlings start to emerge, to keep the leaves dry, start watering from below by setting the container of seedlings in a pan of water until the soil is moist, continue this practice until the seedlings are ready to transplant. When they have their first leaves water from below with a liquid solution of plant food, repeat every two weeks and place container in a bright area but not in full sun. After the seedlings have 3 or 4 true leaves transplant to individual plastic pots, water the small plants gently, DO NOT let them dry out, and grow indoors until the weather is warm, after the last frost. Young columbine seedlings are delicate, move them outdoors protecting them from strong direct sunlight. When plants become well established, 2 to 3 inches tall transplant them to their permanent location in the garden. Immediately water them well to help reduce transplant shock.


Keep soil moist. Protect with a light mulch where there is not good snow cover. Feed every spring with a complete plant food.