How to Plant Columbine Flowers


Columbine flowers (Aquilegia vulgaris) are members of the buttercup family. This evergreen perennial grows 1 1/2 to 4 feet tall and spreads 1 to 2 feet wide. The compound, blue-green leaves grow upright, giving columbine plants a bushy appearance. Bi-color, bell-shaped flowers bloom from May until June. Columbine flowers are used in woodland gardens, wildflower beds, flowerbed borders, accent displays, cut flower gardens and rock gardens. This perennial flower attracts hummingbirds to your garden. Columbine flowers thrive when planted in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 9.

Step 1

Remove weeds, grass, rocks and sticks from a planting area with partial shade exposure. Columbine flowers need protection from the heat of full sunlight, but they do not grow well in thick shade.

Step 2

Loosen the soil by turning it over with a shovel to the depth of 12 to 18 inches. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of well-rotted compost on top of the soil. Work the compost in with a garden hoe while breaking up dirt clods.

Step 3

Add 2 lb. of 5-10-5 fertilizer for every 100 square feet of planting area. Work this into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. Rake the soil smooth and level.

Step 4

Dig a hole as deep as the rootball and a few inches wider with a hand trowel. Remove the columbine plant from its container without disturbing the roots. Place the plant in the hole, and fill the hole with soil. Gently firm the soil around the plant to keep it in place.

Step 5

Plant the rest of the columbine flower plants, spacing them 24 inches apart. Sprinkle the planting area with water until the soil is damp to 6 inches.

Tips and Warnings

  • Remove any infected columbine plants or foliage when attacked by plant disease. Look for signs of powdery mildew, crown rot, root rot and leaf miners each time you water the columbine.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Garden hoe
  • Fertilizer
  • Rake
  • Hand trowel
  • Water


  • University of Vermont: Aquilegia
  • University of Maryland Cooperative Extension: Columbine Production and Consumer Care
  • Aggie Horticulture---Texas Superstar: 'Texas Gold' Columbine
Keywords: planting columbine flowers, growing columbine plants, planting Aquilegia vulgaris

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.