One of the sweetest flowers in spring gardens is the Columbine. Columbine plants (Aquilegia) have an airy appearance, with small, rounded leaves and tall flower stalks that hold the blooms above the foliage. Aquilegia's bell-shaped flowers are popular with hummingbirds, bees, and gardeners. The mid-spring blooms fill the void between early spring bulbs and peak garden season. Columbine flowers are associated with woodland gardens, but most are widely adaptable.
Many of the species are native to areas throughout North America, from Canada to Texas.
Most varieties of Columbine plants will bloom for at least four weeks. They are tougher plants than they appear, but they tend to be short-lived perennials. However, they will seed and spread, remaining in your garden for years.
■ Leaves: Flat fans of oval dark green leaves that turn red in the fall.
■ Flowers: Each dangling, bell-shaped flower has five petals that flare out from the base, surrounded by a collar of five larger sepals. The long, nectar holding spurs arch backward out of the flowers. Petals and sepals come in a variety of colors and combinations, in shade of light blue, pink, purple, red, white and yellow
Columbine plants are adaptable to almost every garden, growing in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 - 9. The columbine species are wildflowers native to many areas of North America.
For the best flowering and healthiest plants, a spot in partial shade is ideal. Columbine plants can handle full sun in spring, but after they have flowered and are re-building their store of energy, they appreciate some shade in summer's heat.
Mature Plant Size
Size can vary greatly, by variety.
There are dwarf Columbines that don't get much taller than 4 - 6 inches and taller varieties that can top 3 feet. In general, expect Columbine plants to be about 24 - 36 inches (h) x 6 - 12 inches
Peak flowering time is late spring to early summer. Columbines will remain in bloom 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the weather.
Using Columbine Plants in Your Garden Design
Aquilegia plants are naturals in woodland and rock gardens. Their delicate fan-shaped foliage is a nice contrast to ferns and Hostas and since they hold their flowers high above the base of the plant, they blend well with other shade lovers, like Hellebores and bleeding hearts.
You can use Columbine plants in containers, but they'll need regular watering. Place the containers somewhere where hummingbirds will feel welcome because this is one of their favorite plants.
Soil: Columbine plants are adaptable, but they prefer an acidic soil pH of about 5.0 to 6.0.
Caring for Columbine Flowers
Columbine plants can handle full sun. It's the combination of heat and dry soil they don't like and mulching will help alleviate that.
Columbine flowers will self-sow, but new plants can be lost if the summer gets too hot. Also, plants tend to be short-lived, fading out within 3 years. Hedge your bets and save some seed to sow in the fall or falling spring.
Keep in mind that Aquilegia varieties readily cross-pollinate. If you plant more than one variety, be prepared to see new colors and combinations.
If self-sowing becomes a nuisance, shear the plants back in mid-summer, to prevent seed pods from forming.
Pests & Problems of Columbine Plants
Aphids, caterpillars and leaf miners all love Columbine plants. Leaf miners are by far the biggest problem. The miners tunnel inside the leaves and can quickly make an unsightly mess. Shearing the plants, after blooming, will usually avert the problem. Since Columbine plants do not usually rebloom, shearing is the best way to control insect problems. The leaves will eventually fill back in.
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-grow-and-care-for-columbines-
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa