The perennial columbine (genus Aquilegia) blooms from mid-spring to early summer and is easy to grow. It is also known as crowfoot or Granny’s Bonnet because of the bell-shaped, spurred flowers. It is native to the northeast regions of the United States and Canada. The name of the genus is derived from the Latin word for eagle, Aquila. The long spurs that extended behind the flower petals resemble the claws of an eagle. They are a favorite of hummingbirds, bees, moths and butterflies. The columbine is also well suited for cut-flower arrangements.
Colors range from light pastels to bright reds, yellows, oranges, purples, and bi-colors. Sizes range from a petite six inches to almost three feet tall and about 18” wide. There are over 70 species. The leaves have a lacy appearance.
Columbine plants aren’t too particular about soil as long its’ well-draining and not too dry. Do not over water. They enjoy full sun in most areas, but they don’t like the very hot part of summer. Warmer areas, like the south, grow them in partial shade. It is a useful plant for beds and borders. It has a shallow root system and grows in clumps.
Columbine doesn’t suffer from too many problems. Leaf miners can become an issue on occasion. Treating plants with neem oil is a good way to control these pests. They are very hardy and resilient; being deer-resistant and drought-tolerant. Pruning columbine plants back to the foliage just after blooming can usually help alleviate any problems with insects pests. You may even be lucky enough to get a second stem growth within a few weeks so that you may enjoy another wave of blooms. The bloom season can be extended by as long as six weeks into mid summer. Cut back foliage to the ground in the fall.
Note: Blooms will not appear on seed-grown plants until their second year.
For additional information on planting and caring for the columbine check out the resources below: