Columbine meadow-rue – planting, care and tips

Flower of columbine meadow-rue
Flower of columbine meadow-rue - by Neitram - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Among the perennials, it is one of the candidates for the planting of beautiful open spaces. With the Columbine meadow-rue exceptionally beautiful beds can be created. It has a wild perennial character, which gives the garden, natural or farm garden, the special charm. But even without a concept it is an asset. With its many positive properties, it is a frugal, attractive, undemanding and easy-care perennial. It is a valuable bee pasture and is popular with the busy, nectar-searching summers. Butterflies also literally fly onto this perennial. A hustle and bustle arises in the garden.

Profile of columbine meadow-rue:

Scientific name: Thalictrum aquilegifolium

Plant family: buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)

Other names: Siberian columbine meadow-rue, French meadow-rue, greater meadow-rue

Sowing time: autumn

Planting time: spring

Flowering period: May to August


Harvest time:

Location: off-sun to partially shaded

Soil quality: sandy to loamy, nutrient-rich, humus-rich, calcipholous

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, bouquets, pond planting, borders, cottage garden, flower garden, natural garden, water garden

Winter hardiness: hardy

Plant characteristics and classification of columbine meadow-rue

Origin and occurrence of columbine meadow-rue

The perennial from the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) also grows on moist to wet soils and prefers similar conditions in the garden – a reason why you can often find them in the water garden.

Plant order of columbine meadow-rue

The columbine meadow-rue, with the botanical name Thalictrum aquilegifolium, is the only representative of the meadow-rue, which is native to Central Europe. Its distribution area extends from Europe to China, Japan, Korea and even in Siberia.

Characteristics of columbine meadow-rue


The columbine meadow-rue grows upright, its look is bushy. It grows 100 to 120 cm (3 to 4 ft.) in height.


The relationship to the columbine is clearly evident in the foliage. The very similar looking leaves are colored blue-green and pinnate two to three times. The individual leaflets are bluntly serrated on the edge.


Depending on the weather, the columbine meadow-rue blooms from May to August. Then it shows itself from its most beautiful side and adorns itself with graceful violet inflorescences, which are arranged in panicles and stand together in loose tufts. The petals fall off immediately, but the slightly thickened stamens remain for a long time and are therefore considered the “actual” flowers.


After flowering, a large number of small hanging capsule fruits develop with the seeds of the perennial. Attention: Thalictrum aquilegifolium strongly seed itself in suitable locations.

columbine meadow-rue
columbine meadow-rue – by Pmau – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Columbine meadow-rue – cultivation and care


For the columbine meadow-rue, choose a off-sun to half-shaded spot in the garden with – ideally – slightly higher air humidity.


As at the natural site, the soil at the planting site should be permanently fresh to moist and have a high humus and nutrient content. The soil can also be rich in lime.


Due to their size, Thalictrum aquilegifolium and many varieties of it need a stake so that they do not snap. This so-called perennial support can be easily built yourself with a few bamboo sticks and some wire. When planting, it is important that you do not plant more than four plants per square meter (3×3 ft). If the leaves are very densely packed, fungal diseases such as powdery mildew can occur, which are further promoted by the moist location.


You don’t have to divide the columbine meadow-rue to keep it healthy and vital. However, if you want to propagate them, it is a good way to expand the stocks in the garden. Then go to work in early spring.


The plants like to self-seed. These can be used for targeted propagation. This method of propagation is more promising than other measures. To do this, collect the seeds in autumn.

Fill a pot with a mixture of peat and sand. Sprinkle the seeds on the substrate and lightly cover them with sand. The soil is then moistened and the planter covered with foil. The growing container is placed outside in a protected place where it spends the entire winter. Check the substrate moisture regularly. After the cold stimulus, the seeds will germinate in the next spring at temperatures between 15 and 18 °C ( 59 and 64 °F) . You need partially shaded conditions.


In early summer, you can cut cuttings that are 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) long from a strong mother plant. Remove the bottom leaves and put the shoots in a container filled with peat and sand. The cuttings form fresh roots in a protected, partially shaded spot.


Columbine meadow-rue always need a slightly damp soil. This makes regular watering necessary. If the soil is too dry, the plant will inevitably die quickly. If the soil is too wet, the plant will rot.


An annual fertilization with a high quality compost brings very good results. One expects 1 to 2 liters per square meter, so that the columbine meadow-rue thrives powerfully and bears rich flowers.


When the columbine meadow-rue has faded, it can be cut back generously. The basic leaves should remain so that the plant can maintain its metabolism. After a short time, the plant sprout again and develop fresh leaves.

As soon as the aerial parts of the plant have died in autumn, they can be removed completely. If you do not cut the withered leaves, they will be decomposed by microorganisms in the soil next spring. This provides the rhizomes with fresh nutrients.

Diseases and pests

The columbine meadow-rue has no noteworthy problems with plant diseases and pests. Fungal diseases such as powdery mildew can occur, which are promoted by a moist location.


The columbine meadow-rue is absolutely frost hardy and survives winter without further winter protection.

Use in the garden

As a native wild perennial, Thalictrum aquilegifolium looks good on the natural garden or the cottage garden. Flower beds and borders can be made very appealing in general: With their fluffy, light clusters of flowers, the columbine meadow-rue often forms the center of the beds. Planted in the background, the tall perennial directs your glimpse upwards and thus provides structure. Due to its location requirements, it also often decorates the edge of the garden pond or the edges of trees and shrubs that grow in the light half-shade.

Tip: Columbine meadow-rue is also suitable as a natural-looking cut flower for the vase.

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