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Eastern Red Columbine – Growing Aquilegia Canadensis – A Wild Perennial

Gardeners and lovers of flowers alike love columbines.  This wild version called eastern red columbine – the name is derived from the Latin word for eagle.

Wild columbines grow across North America from Canada to Florida and from Texas to the Dakotas.

Red columbine grows easily from seeds. 

Columbine grown from seed will not bloom in the first year. Seeds should be started in the fall for best results.

Keep reading to find out how to grow this pretty wild columbine perennial.

Flowers of columbine aquilegia in a field

Showy eastern red columbine

Brush up on your knowledge of eastern red columbine with these fun facts.

  • botanical name – aquilegia canadensis
  • family – ranunculaceae
  • type – herbaceaous perennial
  • native to – eastern United States and southeastern Canada – (Canada issued a 2c stamp in 1977 featuring the red columbine!)
  • common names – also known as wild columbine, red columbine, meeting houses, common columbine, aquilegia canadensis little lanterns, native columbine

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Aquilegia canadensis - also known as eastern red columbine is a perennial that grows wild in the USA from Texas to the Dakotas and from Canada to Florida. It is easy to grow from seed. The flowers resemble ballerinas! Find out how… Click To Tweet

Growing eastern red columbine:

One can easily see why the flowers is so loved. They are very showy, with a bright strawberry red bell shape that has a bright yellow stamens. 

Wild columbine is sure to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Follow these growing tips for best results with aquilegia canadensis.

Hardiness zones for red columbine

This perennial is cold hardy in zones 3-8.

Sunlight, soil and watering needs

Wild red columbine will grow in anything sun conditions from part shade to full sun. Many garden references point to the plant being a shade plant, but it will grow in sun , too.

Give it well draining soil. Water well to get the plant established. Then red columbine will tolerate dry, conditions and even drought.

Pretty columbine red and yellow flower.

Mature size and bloom time

Most red columbines will grow up to 24 inches in height but the plant can reach 3 feet tall and 1 1/2 feet wide. It blooms in early summer and attracts both birds and butterflies.

The flowers start opening up in spring just as the hummingbirds start to arrive. They are a perfect match! 

The red columbine flower can last a month, and the foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season.

Cut back plants after flowering to stop self-seeding and refresh the foliage.

When the flowers start to lose color and droop, it is the time to deadhead. Snip the heads down to their base and discard them. 

Check out this post for general tips on growing columbine.

The red and yellow flowers have upward spurred petals with numerous yellow stamens hanging below the petals. The delicate red flowers resemble dancing ballerinas.

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Where to buy wild columbine seeds

Check your big box stores and small local nurseries to see if they have red columbine seeds. Your local Farmer’s Market may have wild columbine plants for sale.

Many online retailers also have it for sale:

  • Amazon has red columbine seeds.
  • Etsy has wild columbine seeds as well as other varieties for sale.
  • Prairie Moon Nursery sells the seeds in many different sized packages.

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Would you like a reminder of this post with growing tips for aquilegia canadensis? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

Yellow and red aquilegia flower with words Growing Eastern Red Columbine.

Admin note: this post for wild red columbine first appeared on the blog in August of 2013. I have updated the post to add new photos, a project card, and a video for you to enjoy.

Yield: 1 happy plant

How to Grow Eastern Red Columbine - Aquilegia Canadensis

Pretty columbine red and yellow flower.

Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis) is a perennial that grows wild throughout North American.

It is easily grown from seed.

Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty easy


  • Aquilegia Canadensis seeds
  • Compost or other organic matter


  • Watering can or hose


  1. Choose a location that gets 3-6 hours of sunlight a day.
  2. Add compost or other organic matter to the soil to make sure that it drains well.
  3. Sow seeds in fall or early winter.
  4. Directly sow in the area you have chosen by lightly tamping the seeds into the soil.
  5. Do not cover the seeds. They need light to germinate.
  6. Germination takes place in early spring when your local conditions are ideal.
  7. Eastern red columbine plants will flower in the second year.

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