Columbine (Aquilegia) is a genus of herbaceous perennials that belong to the Ranunculaceae family. The plant is known for its delicate, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in shades of blue, pink, purple, red, white, and yellow. Columbine is widely used for its unique and intricate flowers, long blooming period, and ability to thrive in various growing conditions.
Columbine flowers are made up of five petal-like sepals that form a tube-like shape, with five spurred petals extending backward from the flower’s base. The spur on the flower provides a unique characteristic to the plant, and it also acts as a nectar guide for pollinators. Columbines are often visited by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds attracted to the sweet nectar the flowers produce.
Columbine plants are available in many different cultivars, each with its unique features. The plants can grow from 6 inches to 3 feet tall, with a spread of up to 2 feet. The leaves of the plant are typically lobed and delicate, adding to the beauty of the plant. In addition, some cultivars of columbine have variegated foliage, adding to the overall appeal of the plant.
The plant can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay and sandy soils, though they prefer well-drained soil rich in organic matter and moderate moisture. Columbine plants also prefer partial shade, making it an excellent choice for woodland gardens or planting under trees. The plant is hardy in zones 3-9 and can be grown in different climates.
Columbine is a long-blooming plant, lasting from spring to early summer. Deadheading spent blooms can encourage further flowering, making the plant an excellent choice for a low-maintenance garden. Columbine is also relatively low maintenance and pest and disease-resistant.
One of the most popular cultivars of columbine is the “McKana Giants” cultivar. Other popular cultivars include “Blue Star,” with its delicate blue flowers, and “Nora Barlow,” with its unique, frilly pink flowers.