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Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata

‘Black Barlow’



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Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Black Barlow’

Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Black Barlow’ has deepest plum-purple-black blooms. Like starry black powder puffs.
These devilishly dark flowers look striking against grey-green foliage as they bloom in spring-early summer.
While the dainty foliage lights up a shaded area all year round with an elegant greyish glow.

Devilishly dark flowers

So these unusual and highly decorative flowers are completely without spurs. Making them very double puff-balls with layers of pointed petals.

Triumph for florists

The Barlow Series of Aquilegias triumph as cut flowers in floristry.
Because they result from a long breeding programme to achieve excellence as commercial cut flowers.
Hence ‘Black Barlow’ blooms hold exceptionally well and long in a vase. And they are always eye-catching.

Bred for garden stamina & hardiness

Fortunately ‘Black Barlow’ was also bred for garden stamina, hardiness, and ease of growing.
So the plant is equally as robust in the garden.


Sow Aquilegia seeds August to December / or March to May.
Seeds may be sown either in punnets indoors / or directly into the garden.

Indoors: First sow the seed on the surface of  moist, lightly firmed, quality seed raising mix.
Then cover the seed with a light sprinkling of vermiculite or sieved mix.

Now thoroughly moisten by standing the sown punnet in a shallow water bath. Until the moisture percolates through the mix from below to the surface.
Now use a plastic lid or seal the punnet inside a polythene bag to keep the moisture in.

Then place the sown punnet in a warm, well lit position (not in direct sunlight).
But do not exclude light as this helps germination.

Temperatures of 15 to 20°C are ideal for rapid and optimum germination.
Now continue to keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged.

Germination is within 2 to 3 weeks.

When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) and grow on before planting young plants out after frosts have passed.
Mature plants are totally frost hardy once established.

Plant directly in the garden: Sow seeds in a part shaded location, sprinkling seeds straight onto the ground in late-summer.
Rake gently so that the seeds are covered with a small amount of soil.
The seeds will then germinate during spring.

Seed Count: 30 seeds per pack approx.
(We always aim to exceed the stated seed count and give a generous serve).

GROWING: Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Black Barlow’

Height with flowers: 70cm. approx. tall, with branching heads of starry plum-black blooms on long, strong stems.
Width: 40cm. approx. wide neat mound of elegantly grey-green foliage shaped like a Maidenhair Fern.
Position: Plant in a shaded, semi shaded, to sunny position. Aquilegias thrive in the dappled shade under trees and shrubs, and under deciduous trees. This hardy variety can also thrive in full sun, but there it will need more mulch.

Growth: Hardy and long-lived, evergreen perennial clump.
Plants will also self-seed babies around themselves in suitable conditions.
Soil: Aquilegia can thrive in a variety of soils, from sandy to clay based. And thrive in a pH on either the acid or alkaline side of neutral.
Soil enriched with compost and mulch is perfect. But all soils must be well drained. Aquilegia do not tolerate being waterlogged.

Frost: Very frost hardy. 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. There they can resist periods of dry, requiring no more than average garden watering in warmer periods.   

Really useful plant

Pots: Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Black Barlow’ is a treasure for a decorative pot, because of the wickedly black spring flowers, with grey-green ferny foliage striking an elegant note all year round.
Cut Flowers: Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Black Barlow’ provides superb cut flowers for a vase. Because of the striking flower colour and the long strong stems bearing clusters of puffball star flowers.
Try combining ‘Black Barlow’ with white flowers for a sensational floral arrangement.
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.


Care & Maintenance: Easy care, low maintenance plant.
Spent flower stems can be trimmed off after flowering if you do not want self-sown seedlings to pop up.
But you can also leave seed pods to develop to self-sow more plants around the parent. Never annoying or a nuisance.
Fertilizer: Fertilizer can be applied in spring and autumn.
We recommend to water in with seaweed or fish products at planting.
Pruning: If foliage begins to look tired, 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.

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

Herbal Uses

Aquilegia vulgaris was historically used for herbal medicine. By treating infected wounds with Aquilegia teas and poultices.
However the consumption and internal use of Aquilegia is not recommended today.
While the most popular use of Aquilegia was for treating head lice, by grinding up the seeds and rubbing into lice-ridden hair.
Happily our modern chemists have less labour-intensive treatments on their shelf.


The name Aquilegia comes from Latin, where “aquila” is the word for Eagle.
Because the shape of the flower petals does indeed resemble the claw of an eagle. Aquilegia is therefore an apt name.
Aquilegias have also acquired many common names. Because they have been loved, brought in from the wild, and treasured by gardeners over so many centuries.
The common name “Columbine” also comes from Latin. The Latin word “columba” means “dove”, and so by calling the flowers “Columbines” we refer to an Aquilegia bloom resembling five doves billing and cooing together.


Aquilegia vulgaris is native to the woodlands of Europe. Where it has developed many highly attractive varieties and forms. Because it was so widespread across the continent it has therefore developed excellent hardiness and adaptability.

Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Black Barlow’ has been recently specifically bred for the commercial cut flower industry.

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