Columbine Aquilegia 'Bluebird' (Songbird Series)
Aquilegia 'Bluebird,' commonly known as Columbine, is a notably attractive perennial plant recognized for its distinctive floral display. The flowers of the 'Bluebird' variety are a captivating sight, featuring upward-facing blooms that boast a striking combination of colors. The petals are a soft, sky blue, giving a serene appearance to the garden. Contrasting with the blue petals, the flower's center showcases a creamy white corolla, which is surrounded by a collar of short, petal-like structures called sepals, adding depth and texture to the bloom. The flowers are carried elegantly on slender, branching stems above the foliage. The leaves of the Columbine 'Bluebird' are equally attractive, divided into rounded leaflets with lobed margins that create a delicate, fern-like texture. They form an attractive mound of greenery that serves as a lush backdrop to the charming flowers. When in bloom, the plant has a graceful, airy look that adds a touch of whimsy to any garden setting. The leaves and flowers together create an enchanting composition of color, form, and movement that makes the Columbine 'Bluebird' a prized selection among gardeners seeking to add a splash of cool blue hues to their plant collection.
About this plant
Columbine, Granny's Bonnet
Aquilegia caerulea 'Bluebird'
Columbine, which includes Aquilegia 'Bluebird', contains several toxic compounds, particularly in the seeds and roots. Although poisoning from this plant is rare, ingestion of significant quantities can potentially cause gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as heart palpitations. Handling the plant may occasionally result in skin irritation due to its mild toxicity.
Columbine, known scientifically as Aquilegia 'Bluebird', has a level of toxicity to pets, including cats and dogs. If pets ingest parts of this plant, particularly the seeds or roots which contain higher concentrations of harmful substances, they may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. In more severe cases, ingestion can potentially lead to heart issues or other complications, although such instances are uncommon. It is advisable to discourage pets from consuming any part of the plant.
Color of leaves
2 feet 24 inches (61 cm)
1 foot 12 inches (30 cm)
- General Benefits
- Easy to Grow: Aquilegia Bluebird is known for being easy to care for and can thrive in a variety of garden conditions.
- Attracts Pollinators: The vibrant flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds, promoting pollination in the garden.
- Extended Blooming Season: Offers a long blooming period from late spring to early summer.
- Drought Tolerant: Once established, it is fairly drought-tolerant, reducing the need for frequent watering.
- Ornamental Appeal: Features a striking combination of blue and white flowers which can enhance the aesthetic of any garden.
- Cold Hardy: It is capable of withstanding cooler temperatures, making it suitable for gardens in colder climates.
- Works in Shade: Capable of flowering in partially shaded areas where other plants might struggle.
- Versatility: Suitable for borders, woodland gardens, cottage gardens, and for naturalistic plantings.
- Deer Resistant: Less palatable to deer, which helps to prevent damage to the plant and surrounding foliage.
- Low Maintenance: Does not require extensive upkeep, appealing to gardeners seeking minimal maintenance plants.
- Medical Properties
This plant is not used for medical purposes.
- Air-purifying Qualities
This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.
- Other Uses
- As a Natural Dye: The petals of the Columbine can be used to produce a natural dye for fabrics, yielding soft colors that are harmonious with the environment.
- In Potpourri Mixtures: Dried flowers of the Columbine are sometimes included in potpourri blends for their delightful shape and contribution to the texture of the mix.
- As a Pressed Flower: Columbine flowers are ideal for pressing due to their distinctive shape, and they can be used in creating pressed flower artwork or decorative items.
- Photography Subject: The unique shape and vibrant colors of the Columbine make it a popular subject for photographers and artists to capture in their work.
- Garden Theme Inspiration: The delicate form and soothing blue color of the 'Bluebird' variety can inspire a color theme for garden areas or decorative landscaping projects.
- Cake Decoration: Edible varieties of Columbine flowers can be crystallized with sugar and used as a natural, organic decoration for cakes and pastries.
- Motif for Crafts: The shape of the Columbine flower is often used as a motif in crafts such as embroidery, painting, or fabric design.
- Education and Study: These plants are used for educational purposes, where students can learn about plant morphology, pollinator attraction, and hybridization in plants.
- Ephemeral Art Installations: The Columbine's distinct form can be used in creating transient art installations that emphasize the fleeting beauty of nature.
- Floral Jewelry: With careful handling, blooms and buds of the Columbine can be incorporated into floral jewelry such as earrings or pendants.
- Feng Shui
The Columbine is not used in Feng Shui practice.
- Zodiac Sign Compitability
The Columbine is not used in astrology practice.
- Plant Symbolism
- Strength and courage - The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word 'aquila', which means 'eagle'. The flower's spurs are said to resemble an eagle's talons, symbolizing bravery and strength.
- Determination - The hardy nature of the Columbine, which is the common name for Aquilegia, represents resolve and the ability to thrive in challenging conditions.
- Foolishness - In the language of flowers, the Columbine was often associated with foolishness, possibly due to its nodding head-like flowers which can seem to bob about in a silly manner.
- Deserted love - In some traditions, Columbine is a symbol of deserted love, representing a love that has been left unrequited or abandoned.
Columbine, including the 'Bluebird' variety, should ideally be watered deeply once a week, depending on the climate and soil moisture. Aim for about 1 inch of water each week, which translates to roughly 0.6 gallons per square yard of soil. It is crucial to avoid shallow watering as this encourages weak root systems. During particularly hot or dry periods, water may be required more frequently, ensuring that the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. Always water at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry and prevent disease.
Columbine 'Bluebird' thrives best in partial shade with morning sun and afternoon shade, making it suitable for an east-facing garden spot. In cooler climates, it can tolerate more sun, but in warmer zones, protection from the harsh afternoon sun helps to prevent stress. Dappled sunlight beneath open canopy trees is also an ideal lighting condition for this plant.
Columbine 'Bluebird' can handle temperatures as low as 20°F and as high as 90°F, though it thrives in milder conditions. The ideal temperature range for this plant is between 50°F and 75°F. It is a hardy plant that can withstand occasional temperature fluctuations outside of this range, as long as they're not prolonged.
Columbine 'Bluebird' should be pruned to remove spent flowers and encourage a second flush of blooms. Deadheading, or cutting back the faded flowers, will also prevent self-seeding if you wish to control its spread in the garden. Prune back the foliage to the ground in late fall after the plant dies back, which keeps the garden tidy and may help prevent disease the following spring.
Columbine 'Bluebird' thrives in well-draining, loamy soil enriched with organic matter. Add compost or peat to improve soil structure and fertility. The ideal pH for this plant is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. Regular mulching will help maintain moisture and soil temperature.
Columbine 'Bluebird' generally does not need frequent repotting as it is a perennial plant that prefers to be left undisturbed. Repot only if the plant has outgrown its current container, which may be every few years, to refresh the soil and provide more growing space.
- Humidity & Misting
Columbine 'Bluebird' is adaptable and does not require high humidity environments; average room humidity is typically sufficient. It is relatively drought-tolerant once established but maintaining consistent soil moisture is beneficial.
- Suitable locations
Plant in bright, indirect light with moist, fertile soil.
Ensure partial shade, rich soil, and spacing of 18 inches.
- Life cycle
Columbine 'Bluebird' begins its life as a seed, often sown in late winter to early spring, and after germination, seedlings emerge and establish a small rosette of leaves. As the plant matures, it develops a deeper root system and a more substantial foliage presence. Come late spring to early summer, 'Bluebird' sends up flowering stalks, typically reaching up to 60-90 cm in height, crowned with distinctive blue and white spurred blossoms that are attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators. After the flowering period, the plant sets seeds within follicle-like capsules, which can self-sow under suitable conditions, promoting new plant growth nearby. Through late summer into autumn, the foliage often begins to die back as the plant enters dormancy, especially in areas with cold winters. Each year, the Columbine 'Bluebird' may grow larger and produce more flower stalks, establishing a perennial presence in the garden until it reaches the end of its lifespan, which can vary from a few years to several, depending on growing conditions and care.
Spring to Summer
The Columbine 'Bluebird' is best propagated by seed. To effectively propagate this variety, seeds should be sown directly in the garden in late fall or early winter, allowing for natural stratification during the cold months. Alternatively, for an early start, seeds can be stratified indoors by placing them in moist sand or a damp paper towel, sealed in a plastic bag, and kept in the refrigerator for about three to four weeks (4°C). Once stratified, the seeds can be sown in a seed-starting mix, placed under grow lights or on a sunny windowsill, and should germinate within a month when kept at a temperature around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (about 21°C). Seedlings can be transplanted to the garden after the danger of frost has passed in the spring. It's important to note that plants grown from seed may not always come true to the parent due to hybridization, resulting in variability in flower color and form.