McKana Columbine - a full sun plant?

paulsiu(5a)March 23, 2012

I planted some McKana in a shady area. While visiting home depot, I notice that it was listed as a sun plant, which was odd since the native Canadian columbine is supposed to be a shade plant.

Does this mean the columbine is not going to do well? Note that celandine poppies do really well in the same area.


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I think it depends on where you are... In Texas we'd never put columbine in sun.
We never go by what the tags say.. we have our own set of guidelines for sun/shade down here.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 12:15AM
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mistascott(7A VA)

Full sun in spring means something completely different than full sun in summer. If you are in Zone 5a, full spring sun is fine for Columbines. They ideally prefer light shade, which has a somewhat ambiguous meaning, but generally means limited direct sunlight but an abundance of indirect light that simulates woodland conditions at a time in spring when most trees have not leafed out. I have seen them do well in 7A with full spring sun, so you will have no problem in 5a.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 4:04AM
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mistascott(7A VA)

As for shade -- they will do fine there as well, provided it is not full/dense shade. You basically want to replicate a woodland environment in spring -- dappled/filtered sun as branches/tree limbs would do but not as leafed out deciduous trees would.

Celandine poppies prefer more shade than Columbines. Of course, trial and error will be your best indicator and by all means let us know if it works out there.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 4:11AM
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tepelus(6a SW MI)

When I lived in SW Michigan, I had some of the wild Canadian columbine growing in full sun. They had some shade in the morning and evening, but during the hottest part of the day they were in full sun. Those were the biggest columbines I had ever seen, and cram packed full of flowers. The hummingbirds loved them. They only lasted a couple of years (the norm), but they were beautiful while they lasted.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 8:27AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i thought the red one was the state flower of CO ...

so i site all columbine.. thinking of them covering mountain tops [above the tree line] ... where they get full blistering sun .. but cool/cold weather... [as compared to say TX] ...

but mine also do well as an oak tree has turned full sun into bright shade ...

who knew the state flower of CO was the pale purple one ... guess the WWW is crushing some of my old beliefs....

BTW.. the red is the genetic baseline.. and IMHO .. no mater what foo foo one you start with.. sooner or later.. you will get the red one if you let them go to seed ... unless the WWW will crush that theory too .. lol


Here is a link that might be useful: here is what my minds eye sees.. except red flowers .. lol ... and that aint shade by any definition ... but also not TX

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 8:51AM
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Well, I do have the red native columbines. They grow underneath a tree and don't mind the shade, but I read somewhere that McKana hybrids prefer more sun.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 8:57AM
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Sun or shade , I do not recall I have ever had one that lived beyond 3 years(a vast majority were biennials for me). I have a really hard time believing people when they write about 7-8 years old plants. Apart from this, the tall specimens usually require staking. They self-seed freely, but many seedlings are just 'dogs'.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 1:00PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

put this in your newbie head

the bigger the flower.. the more sun it needs ..

so comparing the little plain old red to the big foo foo. hybrid.. well

want to take a wild guess.. which one will need a little more oomph .. or sun???

if the genetic starting point .. the species ... which i thought the red one was ... grows in shade.. they will all tolerate shade ... its just when you start crossing genes in the seed pool ... and select for bigger flowers ... the logic would dictate.. they need more sun.. more energy production ...

and this is not specific to columbine.. and that is why i am taking the time to splain it lucy ...

the bigger the flower .... the more sun it will enjoy ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 1:33PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Ken the state flower of Colorado is Aquilegia caerulea, Rocky Mountain columbine. My absolute favorite in the genus!

I am growing A. caerulea in mixed colors, the Origami mix, as well as McKana's Giants and A. canadensis, the eastern native. Most are doing well in mostly shade, but it's not heavy shade all day long. A few are in sunnier spots.

Weislaw, most Columbine does seem to be a short-lived perennial, but I've got 2 A. canadensis plants started from seed in 2008 and they are up and doing well this Spring, so they are in their 5th season.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 7:30PM
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