Columbines delight with their colorful floral displays in spring long before most other perennials, and when our spring bulbs are just starting to fade a little. They have exquisite bell-shaped flowers, that occur in a wide range of different styles and sizes, and in almost every imaginable color! These delicate looking beauties are quite robust plants, and will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, although their preference is a rich, well-drained, moist soil. Columbines originate from rich soils and so to ensure they thrive and not just survive, amend your soil if necessary, by adding compost or any other organic matter (leaf litter).
Be aware that Columbines are short-lived perennials, and so do not despair if your prized plant does not return in spring, rest assured, they do regenerate quite generously from seed. Always allow the flowers on your plants to mature, set seed, and for these to disperse. Do not cut down the spent blooms before this process has completed, otherwise plants will not be able to repropagate. If you would like to ‘move’ plants around the garden, pick ripened seed pods and shake them out in other garden beds as desired.
Ideally plants enjoy sun in early spring and then favor part shade when the hot summer temperatures start, thus a spot under a deciduous tree is ideal. Otherwise simply try to find a location that will protect plants from the summer sun.
Columbine flowers do attract a range of pollinators, including hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. For maximum enjoyment, position plants to allow for easy viewing from living areas and enjoy observing these welcome visitors. The native Columbine (Aquiliegia canadensis), Eastern Red Columbine, is a great choice for those wanting to support such wildlife.
Columbines are quite happy in a
Latin Name: Aquilegia spp.
Light: Full sun to part shade, preferably part shaded in hot summer months
Bloom Color: Red, purple, pink, orange, yellow, white
Bloom Period: Spring
Height: 15-20 inches on average