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Friday - March 07, 2008

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Combining yellow columbine and Malvaviscus arboreus
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can yellow columbine coexist peacefully with Malvaviscus arboreus? I have a nice stand of the former and would like to plant the latter to take over when the columbine starts to look ratty in the heat. Would one bully the other out of the garden?

ANSWER:

Well, in our not so expert opinion, we'd be rooting for the columbine and betting on the Turk's cap.

Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana (Hinckley's golden columbine) is probably the columbine best able to withstand Texas heat. It blooms in April and May, and needs some shade to survive. It is a short-lived perennial, but can renew itself by seeding out. Malvaviscus arboreus (wax mallow), commonly called Turk's cap because of the shape of the bloom, also needs some shade, and blooms in July, August and September.

Our experience with Hinckley's columbine was that it would reseed for a couple of years, and then kind of disappear, and it had a bed of its own. On the other hand, when we planted some Turk's cap for the hummingbirds (who will kill for it), it bloomed a lot more than 3 months, and became a monster to beat back. It gets pretty ratty, too, from insect damage and just general summer droopiness, dies back to the ground in winter, and looks really bad, requiring severe cutting back of dead stems, and then comes roaring back. If you were thinking of planting them both in the same bed, letting one bloom while the other rests, that might not work too well. If you were particularly fond of the columbine, we would suggest planting it, in small clumps, in a mixed bed of annuals and perennials that are a little kinder and gentler. With planning, you could probably have color and bloom nine or ten months of the year, and the space where the columbine was drooping would not be so noticeable.

 

 

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