A playful flower for the spring garden that evokes images of alpine meadows and woodland treasures. When happy in the garden, columbine can reseed and to create a naturalized effect.

The native habitat of columbines is remarkably diverse. So is the range of flower colors and styles. Blooms can be cupped, bicolored pastel, or fluffy doubles in jewel tones. With the range of flowers and growing conditions, one is sure to find a columbine to fit into their garden. Short-lived hybrid columbines require full sun or very light shade to provide stimulating flower displays. Species columbines do best in a light, moist, but well-drained soil, rich in organic matter.

Columbines have been popular for many years. The foliage is attractive and long lasting. The colorful flowers attract hummingbirds, which are simply mesmerizing in the garden. The flowers are distinctive, often bicolored, with hooked spurs, and are carried either singly or in panicles above the blue-green bottom leaves. Their airy texture combines well with fluffy border perennials such as Nepeta and Geranium, or in a cottage garden with Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum) and foxgloves (Digitalis). Alpine varieties are perfect components for rock gardens, containers and other well drained locations. They pair well with Dianthus, Armeria, Saxifrage and other rock garden treasures.

Photos credits below belong to our supplier Blooming Advantage Nursery.

aquilegia formosa

Aquilegia formosa: Western columbine

This is our native Aquilegia. Read more about it in our native section.


Aquilegia 'Origami Blue and White'

One of our top sellers at the nursery. Classic crisp white and blue flowers in April and May.

Grows 24-36" tall and wide in full to part sun. Zones 3-8.


Aquilegia canadensis 'Little Lanterns'

Terrific compact form growing 8"tall and wide. Brick-red flowers with yellow center. Full sun to part shade. Zone 3.


Aquilegia chrysantha 'Yellow Queen'

Found in Southern USA. Vigorous tall stems and large bright yellow flowers with long curved spurs, slightly paler yellow in color.

Several cultivars are available, including long spurred form from Xera plants.

Height 32-36 inches, spread 12-32 inches.

Aquilegia flabellata

Native to Japan. A. flabellata 'Nana Alba' is all white with green tints. Hooked, short spurs to 1 inch long. Differs from most other columbines in having thicker, darker leaves with often overlapping segments. Great for rock gardens. Stocky plant 8 inches to 1.5 feet tall, and 1 foot wide. Grows in full sun to shade. Zone 3.

Varieties include:

Aquilegia flabellata
'Nana Alba' - all white flowers with green tints.
Aquilegia flabellata
'Blue Angel' - bright violet-blue and white flowers.

Aquilegia vulgaris

This highly cultivated species is found over most of Europe. It has ferny foliage and flowers with hooked spurs in shades of blue, mauve, pink white and red. Double flowered forms do not have spurs. The straight species is seldom seen in gardens but there are many cultivars. The grow in full to part sun 12-36 inches tall, and spread 8-18 inches. Hardy in zones 3-9.

Columbine Aquilegia vulgaris 'Black Barlow' Flower 2000px

Aquilegia vulgaris 'Black Barlow'(black columbine)

30" tall 18" wide

Good for cut flowers

Aquilegia vulgaris 'Clementine White' J1

Aquilegia vulgaris 'Clementine Series'

Compact, growing 12-18" tall and wide

Double out facing flowers in blue, purple, red salmon and white.


Aquilegia vulgaris 'Leprechaun Gold'

Stunning golden and marbled green foliage contrasts well with deep purple flowers late April through May.

Grows 24" tall 18" wide.

Find the Best Perennials for your Garden

We have a wonderful selection of perennials year round, but if you are looking for a specific perennial we will have the best selection when it is in bloom around town. Note: Native plant pages will take you into the Native Plant section.


Lewisia: Bitterroot