How to plant and grow aquilegias

Aquilegias are invaluable for flowering in May and early June when there is suprisingly little colour in the garden.

Planting

Growing from seed

Sow thinly using on to moist compost.  May need a cold- warm cycle. Cover with polythene and put in a fridge 0-5°C (32-40°F) for two- three weeks. Remove tray and place in a greenhouse/windowsill  at approx. 18-21°C (65-70°F). Do not exclude light and remove polythene when seeds start to germinate (may take 30-90 days). Transplant seedlings spaced out 5cm (2in) apart in trays and grow on. May also be sown direct outdoors from April-June.

Soil and Site

Best in partial shade in a fertile, moist but well-drained soil.

Spacing

Space 30cm apart.

In the garden

Aquilegias have long tap roots so they are quite drought-tolerant.

Aftercare

Remove seed heads before they disperse their contents, otherwise the parent plant may be crowded out by its own offspring. Save the seed and sow it fresh if you want more plants elsewhere.

Their evergreen  foliage is attractive, even in winter, but it looks much more impressive when given a late-autumn trim. Cut the leaves right back and fresh foliage will appear.

Cut Flowers

They only last 3-4 days in water but are so elegant they are worth it. Stand them in deep water for several hours before arranging, and sear the stem ends in boiling water.