Planting and Taking Care of Columbines!

Planting and Taking Care of Columbines!


Colorful and whimsical jester hats, the pretty perennial Columbine is a gorgeous addition to the landscape!

These delicate-looking plants are actually hardy native wildflowers found rambling throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Of the nearly 100 species of Aquilegia, there are always new cultivars being offered every year! Members of the Buttercup family, these lovely perennials rarely get too large or cumbersome!

Nature Hills offers a wide variety of these adorable blossoms in single and double forms, in reds to wine, pinks to purple, blues, lavenders, yellow, and bi-colors!

All About Aquilegia

Found in sunny to shady woodlands, roadsides, and meadows, the Columbine is known for its Maidenhair Fern-like foliage, its gorgeous foliage mounds, and 5-sectioned spur-petalled flowers surrounding a central, cup-shaped corolla.

pink columbine

Often two-tone and look like Fairy hats! The backs of each curled horn-shaped petal have a cute backward-extending spur that makes them irresistible to kids!

Each spring, the rounded deeply lobed, notched, and delicate compound leaves are in both soft-green and blue-green hues. Emerging from a basal rosette and become lush green clumps that are quickly followed closely by the unique blooms!

Caring For Columbines

Doing best in sunny areas that have some relief from the worst of the afternoon sun, Columbines also handle partial shade wonderfully as well! Provide a well-drained moist and organically rich site and a 3-4 inch layer of mulch around the outskirts of their rosette to keep the roots cool and leaves clean from mud splashing on them from rain.

blue columbine

Water new plants regularly, as well as plants in hotter climates, plants going through an extended drought, and extreme summer heat in sunny exposed areas regularly as well! They will die back in the summer when the going gets tough and wait for cooler days. But once established, Columbines can be rather drought tolerant and hold their own during brief periods of drought - so go on that vacation this summer and don’t worry!

These perennials send up 1-2 foot tall spires of slender, wiry stems full of multiple blooms each, giving you a long spring of delightful color! If you deadhead as soon as they fade, you may enjoy some rebloom a bit later in the season too!

These are not the longest-living perennials in the garden, but will self-seed when you let them! If you don’t wish to have volunteers popping up elsewhere, snip the spent flower stems down to the rosette base and save the seeds for next year, or add them to your dried bouquets!

If you don’t mind letting them self-seed and naturalize, keep the seed heads up for songbirds to eat - attracting Finches and Buntings! The little 5-tubed seed pods also act as sound and winter interest, rattling like maracas in the breeze! (Please note that the seedlings may not exhibit the same flower color or traits as their parents.)

purple columbine

In the late autumn, or sometimes in the heat and drought of the summer months, Columbines are herbaceous perennials that will go dormant and die back to the ground. Their roots biding their time until spring or cooler times return. If yours does die back, snip off and remove the leaves and spent stems and topdress the roots crown with a few inches of compost and/or arborist mulch. But be sure to use a finely shredded mulch, or mulch with fine particles that won’t hinder the delicate leaves when they emerge anew in the spring.

These are seldom eaten by Deer or rabbits, rarely bothered by any pests or diseases, and only fall victim to powdery mildew when overcrowded or in locations that don’t receive adequate air circulation or morning sunlight.

Planting Columbines

Once you’ve chosen the perfect location for your new perennial Columbine, get it installed for years of cute blooms the right way!

pink columbine far

  1. Dig a hole that is as deep but wider than the container/root ball of your Columbine.
  2. Set your plants roots into the hole and tease them gently so they spread out evenly
  3. Water to fill the hole and let it drain away as you backfill with soil
  4. Tamp down gently and ensure the planting depth is the same as it was while in the nursery container.
  5. Top with some compost and a couple of inches of arborist mulch - being careful not to cover the basal mound.
  6. Water in again to remove air pockets and help the soil settle. Continue to water through its first year in the ground - checking daily using the Finger Test Method. Do not let your new Columbine dry out!

Curious Columbines at Nature Hills!

Snip the flowers for bouquets and floral arrangements, or leave them to the pollinators and bees that will have to acrobatically dangle from each bloom to reach the nectar! The red-hued flowers even attract Hummingbirds!

Every Cutting Garden, mixed perennial garden, Cottage border, and Children’s garden needs a few of these unique little, cold-hardy flowering plants throughout USDA growing zones 3 or 4 through zones 7-9! Even your protected container gardens gain lacy seasonal accents, or annual specimens and filler in all growing zones!

Check Out Some of Nature Hills' Favorite Columbines!


  • Winky Columbines - This series features eye spots inside their bi-color flowers, you will love the Winky Purple & White and Winky Rose & Rose varieties with big, open, upward-facing two-toned petals!
  • Double Winky Columbines - This series features double the petals and ruffles! the Double Winky Blue & White and Double Winky Red & White Columbine offerings! These ruffled petticoats also face upwards instead of nodding down like their wildflower cousins and look divine!
  • Origami Columbines - These delicately folded bi-color blossoms feature Red & White or the Blue & White hybrid varieties! The pure white centers show off their colorful outer petals and spray of golden anthers at the center of each bloom!
  • Sunshine Columbine - Double the pure buttery-yellow petals, the Sunshine is a long-lasting perennial that is wonderfully showy!
  • Dwarf and Native Columbines - The sweet and petite Little Lanterns Columbine is a miniature version of the native Wild Columbine! Both featuring red spurs and bright yellow centers, the pint-sized Little Lanterns is half the size of its native wildflower cousin!
  • Blackcurrant Ice Columbine - Deep wine-colored spurs and a pale icy-yellow center, this unique color combination is accented by this variety's unusual spiky flower shape!
  • Biedermeier Columbines allows you to not have to choose one color! Full of nodding purple, rosy pink, light blue, and white flowers, this perennial will grace whatever landscape it is added to with its elegant blooms and interesting foliage!

Great for naturalizing en masse and as edging along the front of the garden border, the lacy foliage is just the finishing touch that eases the transition between lawn and landscaping bed!

Let ramble through the dappled shade of woodland gardens, as a lacy skirting around larger trees and shrubs, or create bunches and groupings of Columbines as middle-of-the-border focal points!

Pair these unique blooms with the equally whimsical flowers of Barrenworts, Bee Balms, and Lungworts! Contrast their lacy foliage with the bold leaves of Hostas, or the vibrant foliage of Coral Bells! Match energies with dangling Bleeding Hearts, bright Corydalis foliage, and fluffy Astilbes that vibe with Columbine foliage, or meld with fine-textured foliage of Ferns and Perennial Geraniums!

Find Elegant Whimsical Spring Perennials at Nature Hills!

Columbines are one of my favorite spring mainstays and once you take a closer look at these beauties, you’ll be hooked too!

Find these and many more garden delights at Nature Hills and get your garden whimsy delivered to your doorstep!

Happy Planting!

shop columbines

← Previous Next →