Columbine Red and Yellow

Aquilegia canadensis

  • Prefers moist, yet well-drained soils
  • Reseeds; dormant in summer without water
  • Susceptible to leaf miners and attracts some hummingbirds
  • Prune off spent foliage and seed heads in late May

This beautiful woodland native has intricate red and yellow bell-like flowers with unique, backward-pointed nectar tubes. The nectaries are the perfect shape for hummingbirds and long-tongued insects that are especially adapted for reaching the nectar inside. Columbine is attractive to a variety of pollinators – hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and hawk moths – as an early season nectar source from May through June.

An early bloomer, Columbine is easily grown in average, well-drained soil in full sun to shade. It will tolerate a wide range of soils, as long as drainage is good. Soil that is too rich encourages weak stems and shorter lifespans, while thin, sandy soils will produce a tight, compact plant that can live for many years. In optimum growing conditions it will self-seed freely, naturalizing to form large colonies. Or, if you prefer, the small black seeds of Aquilegia canadensis are easy to collect and replant in the location of your choice.