How do I start columbine seeds?

Independence, WI(Zone 3b)

I fell for the Winky Double columbine from a weekly Daves email and have bought just a few seeds so I want to do it right... should I start them inside or out (I'm in WI, zone 3-4)? After last frost? If inside, how do I keep them at 68-70 degrees to germinate? Are they going to be difficult to start?
-Burning with spring fever.

Wakefield, RI

Columbine (Aquilegia) seeds should be chilled for a week or so in the refrig. Then plant them on the surface of moist potting mix do not bury the seed just press them in and place the seeded containers in a plastic bag until germination. Give them bottom heat if you can. They take anywhere from 2-3 weeks to germinate so be patient. My suggestion is to sow them into cell packs so that once germinated you will not have to disturb them. Mature plants have a tap root and I have dug them and replanted with good success. I have them in my yard and they self sow very readily. Good luck

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

Wintersowing also works well for Columbine, that's how I've had best luck starting them. Even after they start germinating, be patient for more to come, I've had them continue to germinate into early summer.

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7b)

I have some that I just started sowed yesterday in seed cells, but the packet didn't say anything about chilling them. Should I put them in the fridge now that they're in the starter mix?

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

It would probably be a good idea. It certainly wouldn't hurt, and I think it will increase your germination. It irritates me how most seed packs have the same generic instructions on everything.

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7b)

Just have to say- thank you so much for letting me know to put them into the fridge! I had them in there for just under 2 wks, then placed in a sunny window, and today I just noticed the first tiny specs of green. yay.

Independence, WI(Zone 3b)

I had the cutest lil columbine plants in lil peat pods....planted 10 & gave 6 away. There are 4 of the 10 surviving so I think they'll make it. Good nuff.

Poughkeepsie - Hyde , NY(Zone 4a)

Hi all... Don't you all think that the reason that seed need to be chilled, is similiar to what happens to veggies that are not pre cooked and tossed in a freezer bag for storage? The skin breaks down a bit and veggies get mushy depending on what kind of veggie it is. The hard coating of the seed must break down some how in the same way.

The idea of drect sowing a seeds, what nature does for plants that "sleep" over the winter and come up in spring, is the same I think.

If you do not live in an area that is cold for the kinds of plants that need the cold to germinate, this method of putting the seeds in the freezer for a while works for them. Like tulips, etc. They will not bloom in lower California because there is no frost. They need the heat, then cold, then heat to let the plant know it is time to get growing.

On the other hand, I put Hollyhock in the ground 3 weeks ago and they came up and I now have 5 inch plants, which will have a year's heads up, and should bloom next year, after its winter sleep. The Hollyhock has a flat more or less a "soft" shell that I think allows the plant to come thru now in this warmth, while the columbine has a hard shell and will not come thru till the seeds go thru the winters sleep..

What do you all think?



Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I tried some Columbine seeds indoors without any chilling. Just scattered them on a layer of vermiculite on top of pottibng soil with sand added.

I got what seemed like more than 100% sprouting, and the seedling are surviving better than most that I start!
The packet said "blend" and the name implies "hybrid".

McKana's Giant Blend
Aquilegea - hybrida
Botanical Interests 2010

I see this now on their website, probably it's on the pkt also:

"Columbine germinates best with stratification, ... The process described above should give you the best results, but note that your Columbine seeds may germinate fine without the stratification treatment. "


Virginia Beach, VA

Columbine here in Virginia grows like weeds. i just scatter the seeds when they are ripe and walla!!! tons of columbine in spring!!! Belle

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