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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Aquilegia pyrenaica ssp. discolor
syn. A. discolor, Aquilegia pyrenaica var. discolor, Aquilegia vulgaris var. discolor
Pronounced: ack-wi-LEE-gee-uh py-ren-AY-kuh DIS-kol-or
Sunset zones: Not listed.
USDA zones: 4-8.
Heat zones: 8-1.
Height: 6 inches (15 cm).
Width: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm).
Late spring to early summer.
The flowers have short blue, incurved spurs, and blue blades with white tips and throats.
Mid-green, once ternate basal leaves.
Full sun to partial shade.
Fertile, moist, well-drained soil.
Add a complete organic fertilizer when planting and again in spring when new growth begins; side dress with compost.
Pre chill seeds for 4-6 weeks. Sow seeds and keep at 70°. Seeds will germinate in 30 to 90 days.
Divide in spring; however, they will be slow in recovering.
Dead head spent flowers to prolong bloom. When the flush of flowers is over, cut the plants down to the ground to rejuvenate them. The columbine's new growth is fresh and green the rest of the season.
Pests and Diseases:
Powdery mildew and rust may be problems during dry summers. Caterpillars, aphids and leaf miners can also be problems. In spring, leaf miners tunnel through the surface of the leaves, leaving unsightly foliage. To remedy this, cut the stems down to the ground when plants finish flowering. The leaf miner larvae are gone by the time the second new growth begins.
Rainy Side Notes
O columbine, open your folded wrapper,
Where two twin turtle doves dwell!
To discolor or not to discolor, that is the question. This little gem is often known or sold as Aquilegia discolor. However, now taxonomists consider it a subspecies of pyrenaica. Discolor—meaning two-colors—refers to the blue and white blades of the flower. Described in 1879 by Emile Levier and Louis François Jules Rodolphe Leresche, Aquilegia discolor is considered validly published.
While the taxonomists wrangle over the name of the species, and where it belongs, we can enjoy the flowers in our gardens. The charming blue and white flowers are attractive, particularly when planted in a drift in the well-drained plot.
Photographed at the Rhododendron Species Foundation.
COLUMBINES Aquilegia, Paraquilegia and Semiaquilegia by Robert Nold.
Christopher Lloyd's Garden Flowers: Perennials, Bulbs, Grasses, Ferns by Christopher Lloyd.
Perennials indexed by botanical names. Click on corresponding letter below.