The columbine that I planted about three years ago usually starts coming up in March, but it hasn’t started growing this year. Could something have killed it?
Columbine (Aquilegia is the botanical name), with its lacy leaves and bell-shaped flowers, is a nice addition to spring gardens. It’s a relatively short-lived perennial, however, that owes any sense of longevity to a habit of prolific self-seeding. The original plant may last only two or three years.
It’s also pretty sturdy, despite its delicate appearance. Different varieties of the plants, with their distinctive spurred flowers, range in shades from pure white and light pastels to yellow, red, orange and purple.
Columbine is susceptible to a couple of problems, though, according to the National Gardening Association. The insect larvae called leaf miners leave tan-colored winding tunnels as they feed inside the delicate leaves. If you see this on the foliage, NGA suggest you cut off and destroy the “mined” leaves after the plants have bloomed. New leaves will grow later in the season.
Powdery mildew, a fungal disease, can also affect the foliage, particularly when daytime temperatures are warm and nights are cool. NGA suggests planting in a location that receives afternoon sun and has plenty of air circulation around the plants. If powdery mildew develops, they suggest cutting back the affected parts.
Despite these issues, don’t hesitate to plant more this spring. Select a spot with fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or light or partial shade, loosen the soil to about 12 inches deep and mix in a generous layer of compost. Dig a wide hole, about twice the diameter of the container it’s in, remove the plant from the pot and place it in the hole with the top of the root ball level with the surface of the soil. Fill in and firm the soil around the root ball, and water thoroughly.
In The Tennessean: Four unheralded herbs, “Herbs you may not know about, but need to,” can add culinary interest to your garden this spring. Tap here to read the story in The Tennessean.
Also in The Tennessean: Three popular plant sales are on the calendar this month.