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Aquilegia formosa

Common name Western red columbine
Family ranunculaceae
Life cycle perennial
Flowers red/orange
Size 12"
Light sun-part shade
Cultural notes ordinary garden soil
From seed germinates best with long (3-month) cold stage
detailed seed-starting info below

Sometimes, gardeners are awarded for their lack of resolve. Every year, I'm tempted to just hack away all the self-seeded columbines in our side garden, but I never quite get around to it. To my delight, a few of the ones thus saved turned out to be Aquilegia formosa, which I grew from seed a number of years ago and enjoyed for about two years, after which it disappeared. Subsequent attempts to grow it from seed were unsuccessful, so I though we lost it - but two years later, here they are, in all their understated glory. I like their torpedo-shaped buds, too! A wonderful little columbine.

Aquilegia formosa
Western red columbine

We left this plant behind in our Pennsylvania garden (and wish it well); we don't grow it in Houston.

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PlantLinks to other web pages about Aquilegia formosa

Seed-starting details for this plant

  1. Seed from '00 trade. Baggy 35F (9w) - 70F (16%G, starting 8d)
  2. Same seed as above. Baggy 35F (9w) - 70F (6w; no G)
  3. Same seed as above. Baggy 35F (9w) - 65F (22d; no G)
  4. Seed from '04 garden. Baggy 35F (7w; 5%G, 6-7w) - 70F (3w) - 35F (13w; 2%G, 4w) - 70F (30%G, 9-21d). First cold treatment apparently too short.
  5. Same seed as above, pot outside in November; a few seedlings by mid-April
  6. Seed from NARGS '07/'08 exchange. Baggy 35F (12w) - 70F (4w; 7%G, 11-13d)
  7. Seed from '11 trade. a) Baggy 35F (12w; 3%G, 11w) - 70F (79%G, 3-9d).
    b) Baggy 35F (9w; 6%G, 9w) - 70F (32%G, 3-10d)
  8. Same seed as above, cold-stored. Baggy 35F (12w) - 70F (no G, 4w)

Longer cold stages apparently beneficial.
The experience above suggests that seed is short-viable, and that a long cold treatment gives best results.

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