Aquilegia, although perhaps better known by their common names of 'Granny's Bonnet' or 'Columbine' is a genus of hardy perennials, the smallest of which can be considered as alpine species. They are very easy to grow from seed and readily hybridize between cultivars so be aware that seed collected from mixed aquilegia plantings will not grow true to the parents unless protective measures are put in place.
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To begin with, fill a deep seed tray with a good quality compost such as John 'Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Gently water the compost in then sow the aquilegia seeds on the surface. Do not cover with layer of compost as aquilegia seeds require light to help initiate germination. However, to keep the compost moist you can cover the seed with a fine sprinkling of vermiculite.
Place the tray inside a heated propagator at a temperature of between 15-20 degrees Celsius and place on a warm, bright windowsill but one that does not receive direct sunlight as this can dry out the compost and scorch the new seedlings as they emerge. If you do not have a propagator, the seal the tray inside a clear, polythene bag.
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Once the roots have established in the pot and the plants themselves are large enough to plant outdoors they can be hardened off to acclimatise them to outdoor conditions over 7 to 10 days. Do not plant outside into their final position until the threat of late frosts have passed.
Aquilegias will do best planted in a moist, well-drained soil in a sun or part shade.
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