Columbine Aquilegia vulgaris 'William Guiness'

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
columbine 'William Guiness'


Aquilegia vulgaris 'William Guiness', also commonly known as Granny's Bonnet or Columbine, is a charming perennial plant known for its distinctive flowers. The blooms exhibit a captivating color scheme with striking, long spurred petals. Each flower comprises a deep, velvety purple (almost black) outer layer that elegantly contrasts with the inner creamy white corolla, creating a dramatic two-tone effect. The flowers of Granny's Bonnet dangle gracefully on slender stems, and their nodding habit gives the plant an alluring, delicate appearance. The spurs add to the whimsy of the blooms, curving outward from the flower's base, and are a hallmark of the Columbine's unique beauty. Granny's Bonnet's foliage is lacy and finely-divided, forming mounds that provide a soft green backdrop to the dramatic flowers. The leaves have a delicate, fern-like texture and emerge early in the spring, offering a lush underpinning to the colorful display above. Overall, 'William Guiness' exudes old-world charm with its fairy-tale-like flowers. The contrast of dark and light hues gives the plant a sophisticated palette that stands out in borders, cottage gardens, or woodland settings.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Granny's Bonnet, European Columbine, Common Columbine, Columbine.

    • Common names

      Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata 'William Guinness', Aquilegia vulgaris 'Magpie'

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Columbine, including the variety Aquilegia vulgaris 'William Guiness', contains toxic compounds that can be harmful if ingested. Columbine has been reported to have cardiogenic toxins and cyanogenic glycosides. These substances can cause mild to moderate symptoms of poisoning when parts of the plant are eaten. The possible symptoms of toxicity from ingesting columbine can include gastrointestinal distress such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, ingestion might lead to cardiac complications or respiratory problems due to the cardiotoxins present. It's important to seek medical attention if columbine ingestion is suspected.

    • To pets

      Columbine is also toxic to pets. Just as with humans, the plant contains cardiogenic toxins and cyanogenic glycosides, which can cause harmful effects if your pet consumes any part of the plant. Symptoms of columbine poisoning in pets may include salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In more serious cases, ingestion could potentially lead to cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory difficulties. If you suspect your pet has ingested columbine, it is important to contact a veterinarian immediately.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2 feet (60 cm)

    • Spread

      1 foot (30 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Pollinators: Aquilegia vulgaris 'William Guiness', commonly known as Columbine, is attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds, thereby supporting local ecosystems.
    • Ornamental Value: With its distinctive deep purple flowers with white centers, Columbine adds aesthetic appeal to gardens and landscapes.
    • Drought Tolerance: Columbine is relatively drought tolerant once established, requiring less watering compared to many other garden plants.
    • Shade Tolerance: This plant can thrive in partially shaded areas where other plants might not grow as well, making it versatile for various garden conditions.
    • Cottage Garden Style: Columbine fits well in cottage-style gardens, contributing to a charming, old-world garden design.
    • Spring Blooming: It provides early-season blooms that add color to the garden after winter has passed.
    • Easy to Grow: Columbine is known for being low-maintenance, making it a good choice for both novice and experienced gardeners.
    • Self-seeding: It can self-seed under the right conditions, naturally propagating and filling out garden spaces over time.
    • Wildlife Habitat: The foliage of Columbine can serve as a larval host for some species of butterflies and moths, supporting wildlife biodiversity.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Columbine 'William Guiness' can be used in dye production. Its petals have been traditionally used to create natural dyes for fabrics.
    • As an educational tool in botany or horticulture, it serves as an example of complex flower structure with adaptive evolution to attract specific pollinators.
    • The flower can be used in photography practice, its striking contrast and intricate shape make it an excellent subject for macro photography and studies of light and shadow.
    • In flower arranging, the unique spurred shape of the flowers adds an unusual dimension and height to floral arrangements and bouquets.
    • It's used as a food decoration, specifically the petals which can be crystallized and used to decorate cakes and desserts.
    • Insect habitat creation; the plant attracts and provides nectar for a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, thereby supporting biodiversity.
    • Tattoo design inspiration, where the distinctive flowers are used as motifs or patterns in body art.
    • Columbine 'William Guiness' can function as a companion plant to deter certain garden pests when planted alongside vegetables.
    • As a motif in art and crafts, such as pressed flower projects, its unique blooms are ideal for creating intricate and colorful designs on paper or fabric.
    • It can serve as a symbol in gardens or landscapes designed to reflect Victorian floriography, where flowers held specific meanings and messages.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Columbine is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Columbine is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Strength and Resilience: The common name of Aquilegia vulgaris 'William Guiness' is Columbine, and it's known for its ability to grow in rocky and challenging environments, symbolizing the strength to persevere through adversity.
    • Foolishness: In the language of flowers, Columbines have been considered a symbol of folly or foolishness possibly because of the jester-like appearance of its petals and spurred flowers.
    • Deserted Love: The flower could be sent as a message of deserted love in Victorian times when flower symbolism was at its height.
    • Sanctity and Faith: The Columbine is also associated with the Holy Spirit in Christian symbology, with its spurred petals being likened to doves, which can represent purity, sanctity, and faith.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Columbine should be watered deeply and thoroughly whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch; this might typically mean watering once a week. During particularly hot or dry periods, more frequent watering may be needed to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Established plants will generally require less water than newly planted ones. Apply water at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the foliage, which can encourage fungal diseases. Depending on the size of your columbine plants and the weather conditions, you may end up using 1-2 gallons of water each time you water.

  • sunLight

    Columbine thrives best in partial shade conditions, receiving morning sunlight and afternoon shade, or dappled sunlight throughout the day. This is particularly important in hotter climates where full sun can stress the plant. An ideal spot would be under the canopy of open-branched trees or on the east side of a structure.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Columbine prefers temperate conditions and can generally survive temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature range for columbine is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme temperatures beyond these ranges can be harmful to the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    Columbine should be pruned to remove spent flowers and encourage further blooming. Deadheading, or cutting off the faded blooms, can be done throughout the flowering season. After flowering has finished, cut the foliage back by about half to rejuvenate the plant. Pruning is also necessary to remove dead or damaged foliage and should be done in late fall or early spring.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Columbine 'William Guiness' thrives best in fertile, well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. A mix containing loam, compost, and a small amount of perlite or coarse sand would provide an ideal growing medium for this plant, allowing for good drainage and nutrient retention.

  • plantRepotting

    Columbine 'William Guiness' does not need frequent repotting and can often be left for several years. Repotting is typically only necessary if the plant has outgrown its container or if the soil has significantly degraded.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Columbine 'William Guiness' prefers moderate humidity levels but is quite adaptable and does not require any special humidity considerations when grown in ground or in containers outdoors.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Provide bright indirect light and moderate watering.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, ensure well-drained soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Columbine 'William Guiness' typically starts its life cycle from seed, which upon germination in early spring gives rise to seedlings. The seedlings then develop into juvenile plants, exhibiting a basal rosette of leaves. Over time, these rosettes mature and the plant enters its vegetative stage, during which it grows and develops its characteristic foliage. As the plant reaches maturity, usually in late spring to early summer, it transitions into the reproductive stage, producing distinctive flowers with a contrasting color combination of deep purple (almost black) outer petals with white corollae. After pollination and fertilization, the flowers produce follicles containing numerous small black seeds. Following seed set, the plant may die back during the winter but as a perennial, it can survive through its underground parts and re-emerge in the subsequent seasonal cycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • Columbine 'William Guinness' is best propagated through seed sowing, which should be done in late winter to early spring. The seeds can be sown directly onto the surface of a well-draining soil mix, preferably in a tray or pots. Due to the need for light for germination, the seeds should not be covered but rather pressed lightly into the soil. The tray or pots are then placed in a cool location, around 70°F (around 21°C), and should be kept consistently moist. Germination can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Seedlings can be transplanted to their final position when they are large enough to handle and after all danger of frost has passed.