Columbine Varieties: Selecting Columbines For The Garden

White And Purple Columbine Flowers
(Image credit: beekeepx / Getty Images)

Columbines (Aquilegia) are beautiful, flowering perennial plants for any garden or landscape. My home state of Colorado is also known as the Columbine State, as many columbine varieties grow well here. The traditional columbines that can be seen in the mountains here, as well as in several home gardens or landscaped settings, are typically pretty, white-centered blooms with purple or blue-black petals or bonnets. There are many varieties available these days though. The color mixes and shapes of bloom seem nearly endless.

About Columbine Flowers

Columbines may be started in your garden from seed or by planting live plants in various areas. There are dwarf varieties available to fit in tighter spaces, as the regular big columbines need space to bush out. Most of my plants get to be about 30 inches (76 cm.) in diameter by about 24 inches (61 cm.) in height, not counting flower or bloom stems, which can reach up to 36 inches (91.5 cm.), sometimes taller. You may want to check out the various seed mixes available that give you many different colors and bloom forms of these beautiful flowers. A fence line bordered by these mixed beauties is sure to be the delight of the neighborhood!

Types of Columbines Flowers to Grow

Along with the traditional columbines here, we have some hybrids as well. One is Aquilegia x hybrida Pink Bonnets. Their blooms remind me of the tablecloths that can be seen on the round tables at some lavish event. The bloom's petals hang downward in what is called a nodding manner. We have some that are completely white when they bloom too, which carries a real sense of elegance about the blooms. I recently discovered a variety named Aquilegia “Pom Poms.” These have blooms like those on my Pink Bonnets variety except they are very full. The extra full blooms take their elegance to an entirely different level. The plants seem to need little care to do well, in my experience the less care the better for top-notch performance. Here are a few beautiful varieties to consider; however, keep in mind there are many more that can be checked out to fit your garden or landscaping needs (some of the names alone make me want them for my gardens):

  • Rocky Mountain Blue or Colorado Blue Columbine (These are the ones that are the Colorado State Flower.)
  • Aquilegia x hybrida Pink Bonnets (A favorite of mine)
  • Aquilegia “Pom Poms”
  • Swan Burgundy and White Columbine
  • Lime Sorbet Columbine
  • Origami Red & White Columbine
  • Songbird Columbine mix of seeds (Available at Burpee Seeds)
  • Aquilegia x hybrida seeds: McKana Giants Mixed
  • Aquilegia x cultorum seeds: Danish Dwarf
  • Aquilegia Dorothy Rose
  • Aquilegia Dragonfly Hybrids
  • Aquilegia William Guinness
  • Aquilegia flabellata - Rosea
  • Aquilegia Blue Butterflies
Stan V. Griep

Stan V. Griep contributed to Gardening Know How for many years. An American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian in the Rocky Mountain District, he served as Gardening Know How's in-house expert on all things roses.