To care for perennial columbine plants, provide them plenty of sunlight, fertilize them regularly and keep the soil moist but not soggy. Columbine plants generally prefer locations with full sun, but they can be sensitive to extreme heat. When growing them in warmer climates, provide partial shade to prevent heat damage and mulch to prevent dry soil. In colder climates, mulch can protect the plants from frost damage in the winter.
After planting columbines, water them frequently until they are established and then weekly thereafter. During extended periods of drought, you may need to water more frequently to prevent the soil from drying out. Apply a water soluble fertilizer monthly when watering to promote healthy blooms and foliage. Deadheading, or removing spent blooms, promotes additional blooms.
Columbine plants are generally hardy and resistant to pests, but they are susceptible to leaf miners. Leaf miners are small black flies whose larvae feed on plant foliage. When looking for evidence of leaf miners, inspect the leaves for squiggly yellow lines, spots or splotches where the larvae have eaten away the leaf membrane. Treat the plants with neem oil to kill these pests, and prune the plant back after blooming season to remove the larvae’s food source.
Columbine plants naturally multiply and spread once they are established. Removing the seedpods can contain spreading, though some self-seeding is desirable as individual plants only last three to four years.