About Blue Rocky Mountain Columbine: This blue beauty grows on the meadows and cliffs of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, and was adopted as its official state flower in 1899 after winning the vote of the state’s school children. Edwin James, a botanist for the one of the first climbing expeditions to Pike’s Peak, first discovered and described this alpine flower in 1820; it grows at an altitude range of 10,000-13,000 feet, establishing itself on rocky slopes or cliffs. Since this species has become increasingly rare in the wild, Colorado law asks its citizens to protect the flower’s growth. The name “columbine” is derived from the Latin “columba,” or dove, since an upside down bloom looks like a circle of doves around a fountain. The Latin genus name “Aquilegia” means “eagle,” since the spikes on the back of the flower look like an eagle’s talons.
Blue Rocky Mountain Columbine Germination: Plant in fertile, moist, well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade; this flower appreciates being shielded from the midday sun. Direct sow in early fall, sowing the seed just below the surface of the soil. For spring planting, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 60 days before direct sowing after the last frost. The seed can also be started indoors, planted just below the surface of a flat and kept at a temperature of 60-65 degrees F until germination; keep the soil lightly moist. Space seedlings 16-18" apart.
Growing Blue Rocky Mountain Columbine Seeds: Keep the seedlings watered and control weeds. Mature plants tolerate some dryness, but should be watered in the heat of summer. Hot and humid weather may cause the plant to wilt, since this plant prefers cool weather and can survive light frosts. Flowers planted from seed will bloom in their second year of growth. After blooming, the foliage will die off. Established plants can be divided, though they will self sow readily; volunteer plants can easily be transplanted. Deadhead the wilted blossoms if new plants are not wanted. Columbine attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees and resists deer. Its natural growth in rocky areas makes it a good choice for rock gardens.
Harvesting Blue Rocky Mountain Columbine: Columbine makes a lovely cut flower. Choose blossoms that have just opened for the longest vase life. Keep in mind that this plant can be toxic and should not be ingested.
Saving Blue Rocky Mountain Columbine Seeds: Keep in mind that this plant will cross pollinate easily with other varieties of columbine. Watch the maturing seed pods carefully, since they will open and expose their seed when fully ripe. Shake the open pods into a container to remove the seed. Store the seed in a cool, dry place for up to two years.
Detailed Blue Rocky Mountain Columbine Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Colorado Blue Columbine, Colorado Columbine Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 24-36 inches Spacing: 16-18 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 3a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 27,000 Produces rounded, dark green leaflets and 1” flowers with periwinkle blue sepals and white inner petals.