Aquilegia a growers guide to beautiful Springtime bonnets.

There are a million reasons why Aquilegia deserve a dappled shaded position in your Garden! I love to see the delicate mound of Spring leaves forming a mass of light green foliage that quickly follows the fading Tulips and spent Narcissi in our Gardens.


Flowering throughout May into June these dainty dancing intricate often spurred, bells of joy are a delight to behold. Due to their popularity, breeders have stepped up to produce and cross breed a host of larger flowering, brighter coloured, frilled and long-spurred flowers in a whole range of colour palettes, to many to mention.


Personally, I am not a big fan of double, frilly flowers but somehow the subtle frills and tightly packed petals of the Aquilegia ‘Nora Barlow’ are a firm favourite of mine.

Surprisingly Aquilegia’s delicate leaves are resistant to slugs and suffer from very few pests. Even if a few aphids or blackly do find your Granny’s bonnets they can be controlled by cultural methods.


I love saving my own seed of many perennials but Aquilegia coerulea has to be my favourite to collect, the seeds almost propel themselves out of the drying casing, so you have to act fast to catch them. Keep a close eye on developing seeds and be sure to label your parent plants at planting time or be bold and expect an element of surprise as they come into flower.


Keep your Aquilegia atrata like the one above or your own garden Aquilegia seed fresh and dry, store in a cool place or better still the bottom door of your fridge. Providing the seed with cool temperatures imitates winter like conditions and help break any seed dormancy that exists.

Aquilegia germinates relatively quickly for example seed sown in early January when the glasshouse is empty can produce strong plants by late Summer, ready to flower the following year.

Aquilegia Red Hobbit

I like to sow a few pots of my Aquilegia Red Hobbit seed fresh and store the remainder of the seed for sowing in Jan through to March this always provides plenty of strong plants to plant in final flowering position or to share with friends and family.

As an award-winning, 45-year-old professional plantsman and horticulturist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands-on technical experience afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large private gardens or estates.

I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As a member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. 

I blog to share my passion for Horticulture with as many people as possible using whatever means are at our disposal, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google, eBay and Instagram if that’s your thing or at the very least please click follow in the top left-hand corner and I look forward to sharing my next post with you.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. When is the best time to plant columbine seed? I just received several varieties and none of them really say, however they all indicate best temp to plant is 50-75 degrees Maybe it’s obvious, but does that mean plant in Fall?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. growhort says:

      Best sown fresh but kept cool as they germinate, high temperatures may delay germination but as cooler conditions prevail your seedlings will appear. Enjoy your Aquilegia


  2. One of my most favourite flowers. I like the colours you’ve shared here.


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