flowering eastern columbine plants

Red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). Photo: Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org

Updated: March 6, 2023

About Eastern columbine

Aquilegia canadensis
Perennial Forb
Buttercup Family

Maryland Distribution: On steep slopes with adequate moisture, often associated with calcareous soils. Throughout Maryland, but uncommon on the Coastal Plain where calcareous soils are unusual.

Height: up to 30 inches
Bloom Season: Heavy bloom in April tapering off to July
Sun: Part shade to part sun
Soil: Well-drained, often over limestone bedrock, slightly acid (pH 6.0) to alkaline

Garden Use & Maintenance: This showy perennial is the darling of shady pollinator gardens. Lacy foliage provides a pleasant texture contrast. In neutral soils this plant is vigorous and self sows freely, but most gardeners are so smitten with it they let it grow where ever it wants to. In slightly acidic gardens it performs best near sidewalks and building foundations, and seedlings are uncommon. Foliage may get powdery mildew in summer, or it may go dormant. If desired, summer foliage can be cut back.

Wildlife: Peak bloom occurs as the ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive from Mexico. Host plant for the Columbine Duskywing butterfly. Host plant for a small, leaf mining moth, which often causes minor damage to foliage in summer. Deer and rabbit resistant, but geese have been observed to attack young plants.

Eastern columbine with red flowers

Additional resource

Publications for Gardeners | Maryland Native Plant Society

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