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Aquilegia Alpina

Aquilegia alpina belongs to the buttercup flower family, the Ranunculaceae. This columbine flower is commonly known as Alpine Columbine.

The alpine columbine is native to the French, Italian, Swiss and Austrian Alps and grows in an altitude between 1500 and 2500 metres (4900 to 8200 feet). It prefers to grow in chalky, loamy soil along mountainous creeks and wells and on alpine meadows that are regularly soaked with seeping water.

The unique, bell-shaped flowers have a beautiful violet-blue colour and are rather large: they have a diameter of 5 to 8 centimetres (2 to 3 inches). The spurs are between 1.5 and 2.5 centimetres (0.5 to 1 inch) long. The plant grows up to 1 meter (3 feet) in height. It has a long blooming time that lasts from June to September.

This is an excellent flower for a near-natural garden: it attracts insects like butterflies and bumblebees and hummingbirds like the sweet nectar as well. And other birds like to feast on the ripe seeds in fall.

These robust Aquilegia flowers are easy to grow. Plant them in full sun to partial shade and keep the soil well drained. The lovely flowers of the cultivars are often bigger than those of the wild Alpine Columbine.

Cut the plant down to its base in fall. They can withstand some temperatures below zero and do not need protection during the winter.

Propagation: You can propagate them by division in spring or grow them from the seeds. Or you can let the plants just reseed themselves. It is nice to have a cluster of these blue flowers: just let some of the seedpods grow until they open and the ripe seeds fall out. New plants will grow year after year.

If you want to prevent the plants from spreading just deadhead them after flowering. This practice will also rejuvenate the plants and promote a healthy growth.

Alpine Columbine Flower Hybrids:

A. alpina 'Alba' – Flowers: white. Foliage: evergreen.
A. alpina 'Carl Ziepke' – Flowers: deep-blue.

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