Aquilegia, commonly called columbine, is a genus containing about 70 species, several of which are grown as garden plants. The Rocky Mountain columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) is the state flower of Colorado. It has sky-blue flowers with white center. The flowers of the eastern columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) have yellow faces and red spurs. Many columbine cultivars and hybrids are also available, offering a wide range of heights and flower colors.
Columbines bloom in the spring in a variety of colors, including shades of blue and purple, a range of red and pink, yellow, and white. The flowers can be spurred and may be bicolor. All columbines have a delicate, airy quality to their foliage, so they are attractive even when they are not in bloom. Height and hardiness vary according to species and variety. The plant is a perennial, but it is often short-lived.
Columbines grow well in full sun to part shade. Plants in full sun require more moisture.
All columbines need well-drained soil. They tolerate a wide range of pH values and can be grown in heavy or sandy soil.
These plants prefer even moisture. They do not tolerate wet, boggy conditions. Lightly shaded plants will tolerate somewhat drier soils.
Columbine species are usually hardy to USDA zone 4. Hybrids are usually hardy to zone 5.
Columbines are best propagated by seed; indeed, they self-sow readily. Many species and hybrids will cross-breed, so flower colors may be unpredictable. Volunteer seedlings can be easily transplanted to a desirable location, but adult plants do not like to be moved.