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Plant of the Week: Columbine

Common name:


Botanical name:

Aquilegia spp.

Columbine is known for its uniquely shaped flowers and bright colors. They are native to meadows and woodlands across the northern hemisphere, including North America. Columbine will tolerate a variety of soil conditions but do best in rich, well draining soils.

  • Light Requirements: They prefer light to moderate shade, especially in the afternoon.
  • Water Requirements: They prefer moist but not water logged soil, especially the first growing season. Mature plants are somewhat drought tolerant but will benefit from watering during prolonged periods without rain.
  • Characteristics: Columbine have delicate, airy foliage and graceful, nodding flowers.  The flower colors include blue, yellow, red, pink and white, many having bicolored or multicolored blooms. They are a clump forming perennial that reach 1 to 3 feet in height. While they are mostly deer and rabbit resistant, they are attractive to hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.
  • Uses: Columbine are so versatile that they can be incorporated into cottage gardens, woodland gardens, pollinator gardens, mixed borders and containers.
  • Interesting Facts: Columbines are distinctive for their five petaled flowers that have long backward extending spurs that contain little pockets of nectar. The genus name derives from the Latin aquila (eagle) and lego (together), suggesting that the curved nectaries or spurs resemble the closing talons of an eagle.
  • Varieties:
    • Aquilegia canadensis: (Eastern Red Columbine) is native to North America. This species has red and yellow tubular flowers that are attractive to hummingbirds. It is more tolerant of heat and humidity than other varieties.
    • Aquilegia canadensis: ‘Little Lanterns’ is a dwarf version of the native species, reaching only 8 to 10 inches tall.
    • Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Winky’ Series: The Winky Series produces loads of more upward facing blooms. The series features a wide range of bicolored combinations.
    • Aquilegia x. Hybrida ‘Earlybird’ Series: This mixture was bred for vibrant colors and unusual color combinations. They feature a neat, rounded habit growing 10 to 12 inches.
Plant of the Week: Columbine
Columbine was named for the Latin word columba, which means dove.
Native Americans used the seeds to make an infusion to treat headaches.
The long spurs on the flowers produce nectar, which makes them a favorite of hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.
Himmel's Landscaping & Garden Center

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