Columbine Growing Guide

Aquilegia species and hybrids


Crop Rotation Group



Fertile, well-drained soil enriched with compost, with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.


Partial shade.

Frost tolerant

Yes, columbine is a hardy perennial. Well-rooted plants are hardy to -30°F (-34°C).


Mulch over the plants’ root zones with rich compost just as the new growth emerges in spring.


Single Plants: 11" (30cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 11" (30cm) with 11" (30cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Bare-root or potted plants of improved varieties and native strains are widely available in spring, or you can start seeds indoors in late winter. At room temperature, seeds germinate in 15 to 20 days. Set out plants or seedlings as early as possible, while the soil is still cool. Plants may not bloom their first year after planting. Young plants need water when they are actively growing. A surface mulch suppresses weeds while making the plants look more attractive.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Large-flowered hybrids made stunning additions to the formal flower garden. In addition, many showy columbine species are native to certain regions, for example Colorado blue columbine (A. coerulea) and Canadian columbine (A. canadensis). These and other native species deserve space in native plant landscapes or the shady edges of wildflower meadows. Columbines develop fleshy roots that serve them well for a few years, and then individual plants unexpectedly die. In hospitable situations the plants reseed themselves, so the loss of older plants goes unnoticed. Columbines are non-preferred by rabbits and resistant to nibbling by deer.


Gather stems for use in cut arrangements as you need them. It is normal for columbines to bloom for a month or so and then start dying back.


Powdery mildew can affect foliage present in summer. Leaf miners often make meandering trails in columbine leaves, which can be pinched off and composted.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Columbine