Surface sow or barely cover.
Stratify for 3 weeks at 35-40°F in late winter. To stratify, place seeds in dampened vermiculite or clean sand, enclose in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Eight to 10 weeks before last frost, remove pre-chilled seeds from refrigerator and sow. Cover with humidity dome and keep at 60-70°F. Transplant seedlings as they appear; anywhere from 2-8 weeks—be patient.
Direct sow in fall or earliest spring, or wintersow into pots in the shade, covered with a thin layer of clean sand and a wire screen to keep out mice and voles. Check for moisture at regular intervals.
PLACEMENT & CULTIVATION
Wild columbine attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds; its spring bloom makes it valuable as an early-season nectar source. It grows well in the dappled sun of woodland edges, where it repels the attentions of deer and rabbits. Its nodding blooms are held by strong stems above lobed gray-green foliage. Cut flower stalks after bloom to encourage a rebloom, and trim foliage if needed for fresh growth. A host plant to a butterfly and moth species, they also support beneficial insects. In their first year of growth, perennials bulk up roots and foliage, blooming more abundantly starting the second year. Self-sows. Caution: contains some toxic elements especially in the roots and foliage.
Plants are somewhat drought tolerant but do best with evenly moist soil; about 1" of water per week, more in full sun.
Prefers slightly acidic to neutral pH levels.
Mix in a couple of inches of compost annually.
Diseases & Pests:
Less susceptible to leaf miners than garden columbines. Leaf miners damage leaves by chewing tunnels in the leaves. At first indication of damage, pick off the affected leaves and destroy or use sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis, a biological, to combat.
When to Cut for Bouquets:
Harvest when 1/2 of the florets are open.