Hybrid columbines are a great woodland perennial for the naturalized garden. Brightly colored nodding flowers, in an assorted colors, rise above gray-green mounds of fern-like foliage. Favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Mixed border,
- Large plant (more than 24 inches),
- Medium plant (12-24 inches)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites,
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil
Season of Interest:
- Early spring,
- Mid spring,
- Late spring
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Mounds of foliage with flower stalks rising 1 1/2 to 3 feet high
Full sun to part shade in average, well-drained soil
Tolerant of clay, loam, sandy soils
Provide moisture if planted in full sun and during dry periods
Reseeds easily, remove faded flowers to avoid seeding
Larger varieties may need staking
Cut foliage to ground if infected with leaf miners. New foliage will emerge.
Disease, pests, and problems
Leaf miner, stem borers, aphids, powdery mildew, leaf spots
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Native geographic location and habitat
Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife
Butterflies and hummingbirds
Mounds of 3-parted compound leaves with irregularly cut margins
Blue-green to gray-green, leaves are fuzzy pubescent.
Hanging or erect flowers borne on terminal branching stems from April to June.
Each flower is has 5-petals, 5-sepals with long or short spurs projecting backward.
Flower colors vary from white, yellow, blue, pink, red, violet or bicolor.
Seed capsule; reseeds freely but most seeds do not come true to color
Hybrids varieties and their differences
Biedermeier hybrids (Aquilegia 'Biedermeier'): 1 to 2 feet high with rounded mounds of blue-green foliage; pendulous flowers in white, purple, pink, yellow and blue
Cardinal columbine (Aquilegia 'Cardinal'): 12 to 18 inches high and wide; long-spurred, dark red with white corolla in May and June
Cinderella columbine (Aquilegia incarnata 'Cinderella'): 3 to 4 feet high and 3 feet wide; vanilla-scented, shell-pink, recurved flowers with white eyes
Goldfinch columbine (Aquilegia 'Goldfinch'): 18 to 24 inches high and wide; long spurred creamy yellow flowers
Ice Ballet columbine (Aquilegia incarnata 'Ice Ballet'): 3 feet high and wide; white flat-topped flowers; narrow, gray-green leaves
Double White columbine (Aquilegia 'Double White'): 2 to 3 feet hig and 12 to 18 inches wide; bright white, double flowering nodding; blue-green foliage
McKana hybrid columbine: hybrids grow 2 to 2 1/2 feet high with medium green foliage and long spurred blooms in red, yellow, blue and bicolored
Spring Magic Rose & Ivory columbine (Aquilegia 'Spring Magic'): 18 to 24 inches high and wide; early blooming; outside petals rosy-pink with creamy ivory interior