Plant of the Week: Columbine

Columbines are early spring flowers, sending up their ruffled leaves at the same time as the daffodils. Columbines come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and bloom times. They are a member of the buttercup family and are a great plant for pollinators.

red columbine

About Columbine

Our native Red columbine is Aquilegia canadensis. It can be found growing in woodland edges in the Eastern Great Plains and the Midwest. I found a couple clumps growing in my front yard when I bought my house. I live in a woodland edge habitat in Northeast Kansas.

One of the varieties we sell at Grimm’s is the McKana Hybrids. These hybrid columbines are All American Award winners from 1955, so an oldie, but a goody. They grow tall, up to 30 inches, but are a great plant for cottage gardens or shade gardens. McKana hybrids come in a wide range of colors. They are often double-colored, being red/yellow or pink/white or purple/white.

Columbine Pests

Columbine suffer from leaf miners, which is the larval stage of several different insects. The larva tunnel through the leaf as they feed, creating visible galleries in the leaf. While these will not kill the plant, they are aesthetically challenging. Columbine may also be munched on by deer or rabbits in early spring.

red and pink columbine flowers
McKana Hybrid Columbines come in a variety of colors

Where to Plant Columbine

Columbines can be planted in shade or part sun locations. While they prefer slightly moist soils, they do just fine in our heavy clay. I like to plant them in containers, cottage shade gardens, and in woodland gardens.

Pollinators of Columbine

I love watching hummingbirds and bumblebees visiting the columbines in my garden. The bumblebees have to come in upside down to get to the nectar.

Columbines can be a bit weedy, therefore you need to plant cultivars are deadhead the flowers to prevent seed set.

You can find McKana hybrid columbines or others at our store outside of Hiawatha, KS or in Nebraska City. Or you can visit our webstore for more shopping options.

Happy planting sign

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