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Aquilegia x hybrida

‘Sweet Rainbows’



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Aquilegia x hybrida ‘Sweet Rainbows’

Years of careful breeding have gone into developing the exquisite scent of Aquilegia x hybrida ‘Sweet Rainbows’.
Not listed for entry to WA

Sweetly scented old-world Granny Bonnets

With the aim of breeding a line of old-world “Granny Bonnet” flowers with all the charm of old forms and gorgeous colours, but with a sweet scent (Most Aquilegias are not scented).

Old-world tapestry colours and bi-colours

This mix of seed brings a range of colours like the shades in old world tapestries, with a mix of rich colours and bi-colours, doubles and singles.
Colours may involve combinations of rose, mauve, purple, violet, blues, apricot, coral and white, as well as almost black.

Prolific garden blooms, cut flowers & buckets of charm

Aquilegia x hybrida ‘Sweet Rainbows’ bloom prolifically from spring into summer.
And supply great cut flowers as well as buckets of charm and scent.

Low maintenance under trees and shrubs

‘Sweet Rainbows’ make an easy, low maintenance groundcover under trees and shrubs, where they thrive in the Dappled Shade and waft their delicious scent.

Undemanding, frost hardy & water-wise

And they are so undemanding, water-wise, frost and heat hardy once established.
‘Sweet Rainbows’ are also Dry Shade tolerant.

Not tasty to bunnies & deer

Fortunately rabbits and deer strongly dislike the taste of Aquilegias. So they tend to pass the Granny Bonnets by on their way to the lettuce patch, unless they are starving to death (if only).

While bees & pollinators love foraging in the nectar rich bonnets

Our friends the bees and other useful pollinating insects just love foraging amongst the nectar rich bonnets.

Hardy evergreen perennial

Aquilegia x hybrida ‘Sweet Rainbows’ make hardy, evergreen perennial clumps approx. 60cm High in bloom x 25cm Wide of dainty evergreen foliage.


Sow seeds any time indoors in a punnet / or scatter directly in garden in autumn and winter.
Aquilegia x hybrida ‘Sweet Rainbows’ germinate easily in the garden after chilling by the cold of winter.

Indoors for maximum germination: First sow the seeds on the surface of good quality seed raising mix.
Then just barely cover the seeds with sieved mix.
Do not bury the seeds because they need light to germinate.

Now thoroughly moisten the punnet by standing it in a shallow water bath.
And allow the moisture to percolate up to the surface of the mix from below.

Then place the sown punnet in a warm, well-lit position (not in any direct sunlight)

Temperatures of 15- 24C approx. are ideal for rapid and optimum germination.

Seedlings may begin emerging as soon as 10 days, but within 21-28 days.

However if there is no germination after 4 weeks it means the seeds are dormant and require a period of chilling (a pretend winter).
So wrap the moist, sown punnet in cling-wrap and keep in fridge (not freezer) for 4-6 weeks.
Then return to a well lit position at 15-24C for germination.
However do not discard the punnet too quickly, as seeds will continue to germinate for a staggered period after the chilling.

Seed Count: 10 seeds per pack approx. (Scented Aquilegias are very special)
(We always aim to exceed the stated seed count and give a generous serve).

GROWING: Aquilegia x hybrida ‘Sweet Rainbows’ 

Height with flowers: 60 cm. High branching flower stems with flocks of double and single flowers.
Width: 25cm. Wide evergreen clump of ferny foliage.
Position: Plant in a shaded, semi shaded, to sunny position.
Aquilegia x hybrida ‘Sweet Rainbows’ thrive in the dappled shade under trees and shrubs, and under deciduous trees.
However this hardy variety can also thrive in full sun, but it will need more mulch in hotter areas.
Growth: Hardy and long-lived, evergreen perennial clump.
And plants will also self-seed babies around themselves in suitable conditions.

Hardy & Easy to grow

Soil: Aquilegia can thrive in a variety of soils, from sandy to clay based. And they can cope with pH on either the acid or alkaline side of neutral.
Soil enriched with compost and mulch is perfect.
However all soils must be well drained because Aquilegia hate being waterlogged.
Frost: Very frost hardy. Aquilegia plants are able to cope with hard frosts, down to at least -15C, depending on conditions.


Water: Aquilegias are not thirsty, water-demanding plants. Especially when they are grown in their preferred positions in the semi-shade under trees and shrubs. Here they can resist periods of dry, requiring no more than average garden watering in warmer periods.

Versatile for pots garden & cut flowers

Pots: Aquilegia x hybrida ‘Sweet Rainbows’ is lovely in a decorative pot, where both flowers and foliage contribute.
Cut Flowers: Aquilegia x hybrida ‘Sweet Rainbows’ give plenty of excellent cut flowers for a vase. With striking flowers and long strong stems. Cut blooms can last for up to 2 weeks indoors.
Bees & Birds: The flowers provide nectar for bees, and are also visited by butterflies, moths, and other beneficial pollinating insects.

Low care

Care & Maintenance: Easy care, low maintenance plant.
If you wish to prevent baby Aquilegias from popping up you can trim off spent flower stems.
Or you can leave seed pods to self-sow more babies around the parent plant. Aquilegias are never annoying or a nuisance.
Fertilizer: Fertilizer can be applied in spring and autumn.
We also recommend to water in with fish or seaweed products at planting.
Pruning: You can cut the clump back to the socks to re-generate fresh, new leaves if necessary. However, Aquilegia do not need any regular pruning other than to trim off spent flower stems once a year.

Avoided by rabbits and deer

Pests & Diseases: Rarely troubled by any pests or diseases.
Deer & Rabbit resistant: Aquilegia have an unpalatable taste to both rabbits and deer because of compounds in the leaves. So the chewing pests tend to leave Aquilegia plants well alone.

Herbal, History & Uses

Herbal uses: Aquilegia was historically used for herbal medicine by treating infected wounds with teas and poultices.
However, the consumption and internal use of Aquilegia is not recommended by modern science today. Thankfully deer and rabbits seem to know this too.
Aquilegia x hybrida ‘Sweet Rainbows’ is a recent release especially bred for fragrance.

While the most popular historic use of Aquilegia was as a treatment treating head lice. So seeds would be ground up and rubbed into lice-ridden hair.
Happily, our modern chemists have less labour-intensive treatments on their shelf.

History: The name Aquilegia originates from Latin where the word for eagle is “aquila”.
So Aquilegia because the shape of the spurred flower does indeed resemble the claw of an eagle.

The common name “Columbine” also comes from Latin where the word “columba” means “dove”. So when we call them Columbines, we refer to an Aquilegia bloom resembling five doves billing and cooing together.

Origin: Aquilegia, in very many varieties and forms, is a native to the woodlands of Europe. Because it is such a hardy and adaptable plant it is widespread across the continent and has been able to develop so many highly attractive variations.

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