Columbines are delightful spring flowering plants that are very popular with cottage gardeners. They’re relatively easy to grow and many will self-seed quite readily. They are available in almost any color of the rainbow and many are two-toned in interesting color combinations.
Apart from the true species of columbines, there are also many different hybrids and cultivars. Here are our top 29 picks of Aquilegias that you can grow.
Aquilegia alpina (Alpine Columbine)
This compact columbine has violet-blue nodding flowers on stems that rise above the foliage. It grows to a height of around 2 feet (60 cm).
The plant usually blooms for around 4 to 6 weeks in late spring to early summer but you might get a second flush of blooms in autumn.
Aquilegia atrata (Dark Columbine)
This striking columbine has dark purple flowers with very prominent yellow stamens. This is an alpine species and grows naturally in high rocky places and limestone areas.
This species is considered a long-lived, hardy perennial and will self-seed readily. The flowers have backward-growing spurs that are slightly curved.
Aquilegia bertolonii (Bertoloni Columbine)
This is another alpine perennial and has the most gorgeous blue-purple flowers. The blooms also have backward-growing spurs that are slightly curved at the tip.
Each flower stem will produce around 4 flowers and grow to a height of around 12 inches (30 cm).
‘Biedermeier’ is an entire hybrid group of columbines with a compact and low-growing habit. These hybrids are available in pastel flower colors of red, pink, white, and blue. The flowers bloom in spring on 12-inch (30 cm) stems and have backward-growing spurs.
It’s also interesting to note that hummingbirds absolutely love this group of flowers.
Aquilegia caerulea (Rocky Mountain Columbine)
This is Colorado’s state flower and you can see why. The flowers are simply delightful with their variegated and bi-colored petals and interesting structure. They have long backward-growing spurs and each flower stem can reach a height of 2 feet (60 cm).
The flower colors can vary and there are blue, cream, white, and pale pink ones available. Being a naturally growing species, you might find that new seedlings that pop up will be a slightly different color as these plants will readily cross-pollinate.
Aquilegia canadensis (Red Columbine)
This lovely red columbine has nodding flowers with red outer petals and yellow inner ones. It also has prominent red backward-growing spurs.
Interestingly, this species will hybridize quite readily with plants from the Aquilegia chrysantha species. This has resulted in many bright red and yellow flower combinations. This is another species that self-seeds readily.
Aquilegia chrysantha (Golden Columbine)
This delightful yellow columbine is sure to add some brightness to your spring garden, especially in more shaded spots. It’s a bushy perennial that can grow up to 3 feet (90 cm) tall. The blooms are somewhat erect rather than nodding and have yellow backward-facing spurs.
Aquilegia clematiflora (Clematis Flowered Columbine)
This is quite an unusual columbine in that the flowers open up completely and appear quite flat when fully open. They look very similar to clematis flowers.
This variety is available in both blush pink and blue flowers. The flowers hang like lanterns on thin dark red stems that bend over at the top.
Aquilegia ‘Crimson Star’
This lovely hybrid columbine will stop you in your tracks when you spot those outstanding red and white flowers.
The outer petals and backward-growing spurs are a deep red color while the inner petals are white with rosy centers. To make it even more special, this columbine will flower for 4 to 6 weeks right into early summer.
Aquilegia discolor (Dwarf Spanish Columbine)
This brilliant purple columbine will brighten up any shady spot in your garden. Apart from the bright purple outer petals, the inner petals are white with a purple throat.
You might also find it in shades of very brilliant blue and white. It only grows to a height of around 6 inches (15 cm).
This striking columbine has the prettiest white flowers with the inner petals touched by a little cream. The backward-growing spurs are usually tinged with pale pink.
It’s one of the “Songbird Series” of Columbine hybrids. A unique feature of this hybrid is that the flowers are erect rather than nodding.
Aquilegia flabellata (Dwarf Columbine)
This pretty dwarf columbine only grows to a height of around 8 to 18 inches (20 to 45 cm).
This makes it perfect for growing in rock gardens or for growing en masse under larger trees and shrubs in shaded garden areas. The flowers are a lovely violet-blue with creamy-white inner petals.
Aquilegia formosa (Western Columbine)
This lovely columbine has flowers with red outer petals while the inner petals are yellow on the tips.
The backward-growing spurs are straight and red. The plant can reach a height of around 3 feet (90 cm). This is definitely one variety to consider if you want to brighten up shady spots in your garden.
Aquilegia fragrans (Fragrant Columbine)
As you would imagine from the name, this is a fragrant columbine and has a scent very similar to honeysuckle. It only grows to a height of around 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm).
The flowers are creamy-white with yellow inner petals. They have 5 backward-growing creamy-white spurs.
Aquilegia longissima (Longspur Columbine)
This yellow-flowered columbine has the longest spurs of all the species. These can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. The plants themselves can grow to a height of 1 to 3 feet (30 to 90 cm). The stunning flowers are a favorite for hummingbirds and butterflies.
This is another group of hybrid columbines. It’s available in a range of flower colors including white, red, blue, yellow, pink, maroon, and purple. Some of the hybrids are also available with bi-colored flowers. Plants can grow to a height of 30 inches (76 cm).
Aquilegia ‘Nora Barlow’
This highly attractive columbine has large double flowers in shades of pink and white. It produces multiple double blooms on tall stems. These blooms are ideal for cut flowers.
Aquilegia oxysepala (Oriental Columbine)
This species is native to northern Asia and Europe and was first described in 1856. It has stunning nodding flowers in a deep red color while the inner petals are tipped with yellow.
Not only are the blooms highly attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies but they also make excellent cut flowers.
Aquilegia pubescens (Sierra Columbine)
This columbine features large erect flowers that are mostly yellow but can be tinged with red or pink. The long spurs are highly attractive to moths, primarily the hawkmoth.
Aquilegia ‘Red Hobbit’
This is a stunning hybrid columbine and is a more compact version of Aquilegia ‘Crimson Star’.
The flowers are similarly colored with red outer petals and snowy-white inner ones with a deep red throat. The backward-growing spurs are also deep red.
Aquilegia scopulorum (Utah Columbine)
This delightful columbine has large delicate erect flowers in colors of lilac and creamy white.
However, different natural varieties can be found with blue petals while others have pink outer petals or sepals. It only grows to a height of around 12 inches (30 cm).
Aquilegia sibirica (Dwarf Siberian Columbine)
This pretty little columbine is more heat-hardy than a lot of other varieties. Being quite a diminutive plant, it only reaches a height of around 12 inches (30 cm).
The flowers are very pretty with pale purple outer petals and white inner petals with a pale purple throat.
Aquilegia skinneri (Mexican Columbine)
These stunning columbines will certainly brighten up your garden in late spring and for most of the summer. Their brilliant color combinations of red and yellow are something not to be missed.
You’ll also find that this species self-seeds readily so once planted, you should have them growing in your garden for years to come.
Aquilegia ‘Spring Magic Navy and White’
This pretty columbine will delight you with its blue or purple outer petals and white inner petals that have a blue or purple throat. It grows to a height of around 18 inches (45 cm).
Aquilegia vulgaris (Granny’s Bonnet)
This columbine species is native to Europe but has naturalized all over eastern North America. It has flowers in a variety of colors including blue, white, violet, red, and pink.
It can grow up to 3 feet (90 cm) in height. The backward-growing spurs are quite short and slightly hooked on the end. Many different hybrids and cultivars have been bred from this species.
Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Black Barlow’
This is quite a stunning columbine that has double blooms in a dark purple color that appear to be almost black. Apart from being a focal point in your garden, these blooms are also great for cut flowers.
Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Clementine Rose’
This is another outstanding hybrid with gorgeous blush pink double blooms that grow prolifically in tall stems. The plant only grows to a height of around 2 feet (60 cm).
The flowers resemble those of the clematis and are quite striking when you see them in profusion. Interestingly, these blooms have no spurs like other columbine varieties. The ‘Clementine’ series of hybrids also include varieties with flower colors of blue, salmon, dark purple, and white.
Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Lime Sorbet’
This creamy-white double-flowered columbine will add a touch of class to your garden.
The petals are tinged with green which looks quite delightful as the blooms gently nod in the breeze. The flowers are also highly attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.
Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Winky Double Red and White’
This is another stunning double form of Aquilegia vulgaris. The gorgeous petals are in a color combination of red, pink, and white.
The outer petals or sepals are a deep red color. It’s quite a compact plant, only reaching a height of around 14 inches (35 cm). It also self-seeds prolifically.
*image by JulijaDM/depositphotos