Wild columbine grows well in just about any habitat

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 02:06 PM.

Propagating columbine

Columbine can be grown from seed or plants can be purchased from local garden centers. If you know someone who has columbine in their garden, collect fresh seed in June and July and sow them directly in your garden. This is the easiest way to propagate columbine, which does not transplant well. Seeds can also be purchased from garden centers or seed catalogs. Purchased seed will germinate better if given a cold treatment known as stratification. To stratify seeds, sow them in a container of potting soil, water well, place in a plastic bag and put in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for four to eight weeks, then place the container in a warm area out of direct sunlight. Check the container daily and remove the plastic bag as soon as seedlings emerge. Columbine seedlings are relatively slow growing and should be ready to plant in the garden a few months after germination.

It is reported that Native Americans used to crush the leaves of wild columbine in the belief that it made them more attractive to the opposite sex. While I cannot report on its potency for attracting a potential mate, I can say that it certainly held an allure for me the first time I saw it. Ever since, I have admired wild columbine for its interesting leaf texture and unusual flowers. There is also an intangible quality of this plant that draws people to it, which is part of what makes it a great addition to the landscape.

Learn more!

For more information on perennial and annual plants, visit ces.ncsu.edu where you can submit questions via the ‘Ask an Expert’ link, or contact your local Cooperative Extension center by phone: If you live in Pender County, call 910-259-1238; in New Hanover County, call 910-798-7660; in Brunswick County call 910-253-2610.


Sam Marshall is the horticulture agent with the Brunswick County Cooperative Extension of NC State University, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.

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