Age-Old Wisdom meets Modern Tools
How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Columbine Flowers
The perennial columbine (Aquilegia) blooms from mid-spring to early summer. Here’s how to plant and grow columbine flowers in your garden!
Columbines, also known as Granny’s Bonnet, are known for their bell-shaped, spurred flowers, which range in color from light pastels to bright reds, yellows, oranges, purples, and bi-colors. There are over 70 species!
The leaves have a lacy appearance. While they look delicate, columbine are very hardy and resilient—being deer-resistant and drought-tolerant.
The flowers are very attractive to butterflies, bees, moths, and hummingbirds!
Sow columbine seeds directly into the ground in the spring. Allow the plant to self-seed and it will produce many volunteer seedlings!
See the Delicate Beauty of Columbine
- Columbine grows in sun or light shade.
- Sow seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost or direct sow into prepared beds with rich, well-drained soil after the last spring frost. See local frost dates.
- Press the flower seed into the soil, but do not cover with soil.
- Thin to the strongest plants.
- If planting a container plant, dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in.
- Place the plant in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
- Fill in around the plant and firm the soil gently.
- Space mature plants 1 to 2 feet apart, depending on the variety.
- Water thoroughly.
- Do not overwater.
- Deadhead faded flowers and new buds will develop along the stems. The bloom season can be extended by as long as six weeks into mid summer.
- Cut back foliage to the ground in the fall.
- When the ground is frozen, mulch to protect plants.
- Eastern red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) – Has unique, elongated hollow tubes inside the flower that point upwards. Native to North America.
- ‘Corbett’ is a dwarf variety with yellow flowers.
- ‘Little Lanterns’ is about 10 inches tall with blue-green foliage.
- European columbine (A. vulgaris) ‘William Guiness’ – Stunning deep purple-black outer petals with white-rimmed inner petals.
- The Swan series includes many improved bi-color hybrids:
- ‘Swan Pink and Yellow’ – Soft pink outer petals with pastel yellow inner petals.
- ‘Swan Red and White’ – Red outer petals with white inner petals.
Wit & Wisdom
- Columbine’s Latin name, Aquilegia, is derived from the Latin word for eagle, aquila. The long spurs that extend behind the flower petals resemble the claws of an eagle.
- Native Americans used the crushed seeds as a love charm and for medicinal purposes.
- The crushed roots and seeds were once used to treat headaches, heart problems, and sore throats.