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Aquilegia (Columbine)

More Information About Aquilegia

The genus Aquilegia contains about 70 species native to the temperate countries of the northern hemisphere. Aquilegia (primarily A. canadensis) is grown for its beautiful spurred spring flowers that come in every color of the rainbow. The name aquilegia comes from the Latin "aquila", meaning eagle, as the flower spurs reminded some long-dead botanist of eagle claws. The talon-like spurs are backwards-facing tubes containing drops of nectar designed to entice long-tongued hummingbirds and insects to serve as pollinators.

An established aquilegia clump can last for years and will spread via seeds, giving you more and more pleasure with each passing year. Aquilegia plants produce copious amounts of seed held in attractive tan capsules which make lovely cut arrangements. The seeds attract small birds such as finches and buntings.

Aquilegia prefers a well-drained soil on the sandy or loamy side with a near neutral pH. Rich soils encourage lanky growth. The best looking plants are the tight clumps that grow in lean soils since rich soils encourage lanky growth. Aquilegia will be evergreen unless it gets extremely cold. It prefers a part sun site. In the late spring, aquilegia leaves are frequently eaten by leaf miner insects, but that does not seem to harm the plant. Some are also salt tolerant plants.