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Aquilegia (ack-wih-LEE-gee-uh)

Common Name:  Columbine

Light:  - Full sun to part shade

Soil:  Average to rich, well-drained

Moisture:  Average to somewhat dry

Blooms:  Late spring and early summer

Zones:  3 - 8


Aquilegia 'Clementine Red'

Aquilegia 'Hensol Harebell'

Aquilegia Description and Cultural Information

Aquilegia alpina, alpine columbine. 1' - 2'. This is a blue species with short spurs. A. x 'Hensol Harebell', a cross between A. alpina and A. vulgaris, is longer lived than other hybrids and often produces additional short-spurred, blue offspring. When crossed with different plants it can produce different offspring.

Aquilegia canadensis, wild columbine. 1' - 3'. This Eastern wildflower has nodding red and yellow flowers in spring. Grows well in any sunny, well-drained site.

Aquilegia x hybrida, hybrid columbine. 2' - 3'. Plants are hybrids of various colors and sizes with short to long spurs. 'Biedermeier' are shorter, compact plants in a variety of colors. 'Crimson Star' is a taller hybrid with crimson and white flowers. 'McKana' hybrids are larger flowering in a wide mixture of colors. The Clementine series is a terrific group of columbine with spurless, multi-petaled flowers that face upward on compact plants.

Aquilegia vulgaris, European columbine. 2' - 3'. Plants have very short spurs and come in a variety of colors. It has been used to create some very interesting double hybrids such as the pink, green, and cream 'Nora Barlow', or the dark 'Black Barlow'.

How to Grow:  Columbines can be short-lived plants but are easy to grow. They often cross pollinate and self seed readily. Plant them in light, average to rich, moist but well-drained soil in sun to part shade. Plants prefer cool spring temperatures and will bloom longer if kept cool. If leaf miners become a problem it is best to cut down and destroy the foliage.

Landscape uses:  Plant columbine as fillers in the spring landscape so they will pick up where the spring bulbs left off. Plant wild columbine, A. canadensis, in the hosta or fern garden with other spring bloomers such as bluebells (Mertensia) and Trillium. Use taller columbines as accents with shrubby perennials like peonies, Baptisia, or large hardy Geraniums.

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