How to plant aquilegias

Also known as granny's bonnets or columbines, aquilegias are charming hardy perennials bearing abundant spikes of bonnet-shaped flowers, above attractive, ferny foliage. Easy to grow and suited to any garden environment, they are happiest in shady spots although they will also tolerate sunny locations. Try interlacing with tall grasses. Alternatively, mix with asters, dahlias, lavenders, phloxes or salvias.

Plant in moist, fertile, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. They are drought tolerant.

Aquilegias are supplied in 9 cm pots. Always unpack and plant on arrival.

Potential problems, pests and diseases:

  • Aphids: these sap-eating insects can weaken plants and spread viruses.

  • Caterpillars: these larvae feed on a wide range of plant material including roots, stems, foliage and flowers, causing both aesthetic and structural damage. Whenever possible, put on gardening gloves and remove by hand. Alternatively, cover susceptible plants with a layer of horticultural fleece to prevent any risks of infestation.

  • Leaf miners: the larvae feed by burrowing in the leaves, causing white to brown spots and squiggly lines and patterns to appear within the leaves. Cut off any infected material before disinfecting your scissors. Heavily attacked seedlings may die.

  • Sawfly larvae: these grey-white larvae feed on leaves, causing defoliation. Whenever possible, put on gardening gloves and remove by hand as soon as you spot them.

  • Powdery mildews: these fungal diseases usually caused by planting in the shade or by poor air circulation can be seen in the form of white, powdery coating on the leaves. Cut off any infected material before disinfecting your scissors.
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