The Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), commonly known as the wild honeysuckle, is a type of popular garden perennial herb. Much of its success among gardeners comes from its hardy qualities, ability to regenerate by seed, 3-5 year lifespan, and attractiveness to many types of pollinators, including hummingbirds and bees.
Not only is it useful to animals, but humans have found several uses for it as well. The seeds and roots are particularly useful. The seeds can be used to treat headaches, sore throats, stomatitis, heart problems, skin rash/itch caused by poison ivy, kidney & urinary problems, and even fever. The roots can be used to treat gastrointestinal illnesses.
The flower petals are yellow and become reddish towards the end of the spur. However, the sepals are what gives the plant its characteristic red color. The flower itself faces downward and blooms from March to July and produces fruit in mid to late summer. It does not bloom during its first growing season. When the seeds turn black in the follicles, it means that they are mature and ready for collection. Red columbine prefers slightly acidic soils that are well drained and loose. However, it will grow in other mediums that are loose and have a mixture of organic matter.
- Seeds can be collected from the plant anytime between August and October. Once collected, the seeds must be dried for two weeks. After the drying process is complete, the seeds can be kept in plastic bags for 3 weeks until they are ready to be sown.
- Seeds should be sown into germination trays in greenhouse temperatures of 70° to 75° F that are kept evenly moist. Seeds will germinate within 3 to 4 weeks. Do not fertilize the soil, it may damage the foliage.
- Seedlings can be transplanted into plug cells after 3-4 weeks of root development. Approximately 2 weeks prior to outplanting (which should take place in the spring), the Red Columbines should be exposed to frost-free outdoor temperatures.
- These plants do best in partial shade but will also grow in the presence of filtered sun. Give them plenty of room to grow and expand– along a fence or wall works well. Red Columbine grows to approximately 1 or 2 feet tall.
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