Aquilegia canadensis, or wild columbine is a native herbaceous biennial in the Ranunculaceae family. It is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Columbine prefers rich, moist soil like that found in its native woodlands but will tolerate most soils as long as drainage is good. Columbine freely self-seeds and will naturalize to form large colonies in optimum growing conditions. Genus name comes from the Latin for eagle in reference to the flowers’ five spurs which resemble an eagle’s talon.
Columbine may grow 3-feet tall by 1.5-feet wide. The red and yellow flowers mature in early spring and can last one month. These tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees. Once the flowers are gone, the plant makes an attractive ground cover. When the foliage deteriorates, it can be cut to the ground. Columbine is at home in woodland habitats, naturalized areas, shady border gardens, native gardens, and pollinator gardens. It is deer resistant.
You will find columbine growing throughout the Brunswick County Botanical Garden.
Information and photos by Jeanne Pavero