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Fragrant columbines

Posted by ispahan 6a Chicago (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 21:50

I have been having a bit of fun this summer germinating some unusual scented aquilegia seeds obtained from Plant World Seeds and Jelitto. I have been treating the seeds with gibberellic acid (GA-3) and find the seeds to germinate in about two weeks with no cold stratification needed.

So far I have growing:

Aquilegia 'Perfumed Garden'
Aquilegia 'Fragrant Fantasy'
Aquilegia 'Honeydew'
Aquilegia fragrans
Aquilegia viridiflora (aka Chocolate Soldier)
Aquilegia chrysantha 'Denver Gold'

Has anyone grown any of these? Online references are few and far between. I wonder about the actual quality of blooms and fragrance on many of these.

Fragrance in aquilegia is apparently very hard to maintain because 1) columbines are notorious for the ease with which they create hybrids amongst themselves, 2) the fragrance gene is recessive and 3) columbine flowers are adored by bees and hummingbirds.

But still, I find it odd that no one talks about the fragrant ones. Is it just because they are harder to obtain? Or is it because they are demanding garden divas?

I also have some new additions among my non-fragrant aquilegias, including dwarfs, bright colors (reds, yellows and oranges), and different flower types (clematiflora, pom-pons, long spurs, etc.).

I inherited a swarm of plain old Aquilegia vulgaris in shades of purple, pink and red when I moved into my current property. I hope to add in these newly obtained forms to increase the diversity and begin selecting a strain more to my own liking.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Fragrant columbines

Hmmmm, I have also grown a few of these and find the fragrance to be elusive, fleeting and easily overlooked....but then, as a rose grower who cares not a whit about fragrance compared to health, I am not really the most informed person to be offering opinions. Try the fragrant plant forum - they are truly obsessed over there (although they also seem to grow a lot of weird hothouse stuff)
Currently got A.yabbeana and another deep blue I cannot recall, on the go. How do you use GA? I have never tried myself especially on easily sown seeds such as aquilegia although I do get a very varied germination rate. Probably the only hormone/enzyme I use with any degree of regularity is IAA (auxin) on cuttings but I do have some tricky lathyrus seeds (Venetus, rotundifolius) and have trouble with angelica gigas so wouldn't mind a tutorial.

RE: Fragrant columbines

Thank you for your input, Campanula! It seems these columbines might not be as fragrant as advertised. Sigh. But I will still enjoy all the new colors and blossom forms that will result from this experiment.

The giberellic acid has been very easy to use. As I know it, it comes in little packets of powder that you mix with a small amount of water to achieve a concentration of 500ppm or 1000ppm (parts per million). Place seeds in a vial or small container, use a dropper to add a bit of the giberellic acid, leave overnight, drain, sow, done. LOL.

It works wonders on things like aquilegia and thalictrum, and germination becomes very rapid and uniform. But it has no effect whatsoever on many other things. I suspect that wonderful seeds like Lathyrus rotundifolius and Angelica gigas fall into the "not affected by GA" category.

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