Content Detail

Hybrid columbines are a great woodland perennial for the naturalized garden. Brightly colored nodding flowers, in assorted colors, rise above gray-green mounds of fern-like foliage. It is a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds.

  • Family (English) Buttercup
  • Family (botanic) Ranunculaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches), Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest early spring, mid spring, late spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Blue, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow, Other
  • Shape or form Mounded
  • Growth rate Fast


Hybrid columbine has mounded foliage with flower stalks rising 1 1/2 to 3 feet high.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

This plant is a hybrid.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife: 

It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

Leaf description: 

The plant has mounds of three-parted compound leaves with irregularly cut margins. The foliage is blue-green to gray-green and the leaves are fuzzy (pubescent.)

Flower description: 

Hanging or erect flowers are borne on terminal branching stems from April to June. Each flower has five petals and five sepals with long or short spurs projecting backward. Flower colors vary from white, yellow, blue, pink, red, violet, or bicolor.

Fruit description: 

The capsule contains many seeds. It reseeds freely, but most seeds do not come true to color.

Plant care: 

Plant in full sun to part shade in average, well-drained soil. It is tolerant of clay, loam, and sandy soils. Provide moisture if planted in full sun and during dry periods. It reseeds easily, so remove faded flowers to avoid seeding. Larger varieties may need staking. Cut the foliage to the ground if it is infected with leaf miners and new foliage will emerge.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Leaf miner, stem borers, aphids, powdery mildew, and leaf spots can all be problems on columbine. It is resistant to deer and rabbits.

Biedermeier hybrids  (Aquilegia ‘Biedermeier’):

This 1 to 2 feet high hybrid has rounded mounds of blue-green foliage and pendulous flowers in white, purple, pink, yellow, and blue.

Cardinal columbine (Aquilegia ‘Cardinal’): 

A 12 to 18 inches high and wide plant. It has long-spurred, dark red flowers with a white corolla. It flowers in May and June.

Cinderella columbine (Aquilegia incarnata ‘Cinderella’): 

A 3 to 4 feet high and 3 feet wide hybrid with vanilla-scented, shell-pink, recurved flowers with white eyes.

Goldfinch columbine (Aquilegia ‘Goldfinch’):

A 18 to 24 inches high and wide plant with long-spurred, creamy yellow flowers.

Ice Ballet columbine (Aquilegia incarnata ‘Ice Ballet’): 

A 3 feet high and wide plant with white flat-topped flowers and narrow, gray-green leaves.

Double White columbine (Aquilegia ‘Double White’): 

A 2 to 3 feet high and 12 to 18 inches wide plant with bright white, double, nodding flowers and blue-green foliage.

McKana hybrid columbine: 

This group of hybrids grows 2 to 2 1/2 feet high with medium green foliage and long spurred blooms in red, yellow, blue and bicolored.

Spring Magic Rose & Ivory columbine (Aquilegia ‘Spring Magic’):

An 18 to 24 inches high and wide plant with early blooming. The outside petals are rosy-pink with a creamy ivory interior.


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