Aquilegia columbine, granny’s bonnet

Height: 15-90cm (6-36in)

Planting: distance 15-45cm (6-l8in)

Features: flowers spring to summer

Soil: humus-rich, moist, well-drained

Site: sun or partial shade

Type: herbaceous perennial or rock plant

Columbine is an old-fashioned perennial with dainty, spurred flowers in shades of pink, yellow, blue, red or white. It flowers from late spring to mid summer and has delicate, light grey to grey-green foliage. The dwarf species look charming in a rock garden and the taller species are suitable for borders.

Popular species and varieties:

Aquilegia bertolonii has rich, purple-blue flowers from late spring to early summer and a height and spread of 15cm (6in).

Aquilegia flabellata var. pumila grows up to 25cm (10iti) tall and produces white to violet-blue flowers from late spring to mid summer. Var. IiimiLi alba is shorter with white flowers, while ‘Ministar’ has bright blue and white flowers. Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Nora Barlow’ has double flowers, without spurs, coloured plum-red, shading to pink and green.

Aquilegia flabellata var. putnila include “Crimson Star’ (up to 45cm/1 ‘/ft tall, with crimson and white flowers), McKana Hybrids and Mrs Scott Elliott Hybrids (both up to 90cm/3ft tall, with cream, red, blue, yellow or pink flowers).


Plant columbine outdoors between early autumn and early spring in a moist but well-drained, humus-rich soil in a sunny or partially shaded site.

Propagation: Sow seeds in mid to late summer, or in early spring in a cold frame.

Alternatively, divide and replant immediately from mid autumn to early spring.

Pests and diseases: Leaf miners may burrow into the leaves. Aphids can leave the stems sticky and sooty.

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