Growing Columbine – aquilegia in your garden will reward you with delightful dangling bell shaped flowers that come in almost every color of the rainbow.
This hardy perennial is easy to grow and much sought after by many gardeners. Since they self seed readily, you will never be without them once you have them planted. There is even a wild red columbine that you can grow from seed.
Columbine is very easy to grow as long as it gets enough moisture. It can sometimes suffer a bit in the summer sun if you ignore it here in my zone 7b NC garden but is worth the extra care to get those gorgeous flowers..
I have it in semi sunny part of my front garden (bit of morning shade), and also in my test garden where it grows in full sunlight. The front plant definitely grows better.
Grow Columbine for long lasting summer flower color
This columbine plant in my test garden is awash with color and texture. I love the double frilly flowers so much!
Tips for Growing Columbine
Spacing and Sunlight needs
Plant columbine about 18″ apart. It will grow 12 – 36″ tall and about 18″ wide. In the northern zones, give the plant 6 or more hours of sunlight each day for the best flowers. In the southern USA, it likes a more shady spot.
Columbine grows easily from seed. You can also root cuttings of the plant. It is a prolific re-seeder, which will result in plenty of replacements. (this happens if you do not dead head the flowers.) Divide every few years by digging up the mother plant and separating it at the roots. They will live about 5 years.
The soil needs to drain well and be rich in nutrients. Add organic matter when you first plant it. After the first year, it will grow in most types of soil as long as you remember to add some compost now and then..
Columbine likes even moisture and you should water a bit more if it gets too dry and the temps are very hot. I find that the leaves of my plants here in zone 7 b will wither in the hottest summer days unless I step up the watering, especially in the first few years.
Attractive to pollinators
Do you like a yard that is swarming with insects? The trick for getting this to happen is to be sure to have a variety of nectar plants in all colors and shapes.
The bell shaped flowers of columbine are very attractive to bees and butterflies. If you want to see pollinators in your garden, be sure to plant columbine. (See more tips for attracting butterflies here.)
Features and Cold Hardiness
The flowers of the columbine plant are often compared to butterflies, due to their interesting shape.
Columbines are much loved by hummingbirds, and make perfect cut flowers. They bloom for a long time in the garden. There are varieties with single, double and even triple flowers. Remove the spent flowers or the plant will stop blooming, and send the energy to the seeds that form.
The list of colors of columbine flowers is from peach through purple and everything in between. The plant acts a bit like a biennial in that it blooms in second season, not the first.
If you would like a showy display of flowers in your garden all through late spring and summer, try growing columbine.