Columbine Aquilegia vulgaris

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


Aquilegia vulgaris, commonly known as Columbine or Granny's Bonnet, is a perennial plant known for its distinctive and attractive flowers. Columbine has a clump-forming habit with delicate, green foliage that is made up of compound leaves; these are divided into lobed leaflets that give them a lacy appearance. The most remarkable feature of Columbine are its flowers. These are usually nodding and have an intricate structure with a set of five colorful petals complemented by a contrasting set of five sepals. The petals extend backwards into long, hollow spurs, which contain nectar and are often visited by pollinating insects and hummingbirds. The flowers exhibit a wide range of colors including shades of blue, purple, pink, red, and white, with some varieties displaying bi-colors or a gradation of hues. The plant produces these flowers in late spring to early summer, and they are held high above the foliage on slender, branching stems. The flowers give way to small, dry fruit capsules that release numerous small seeds when ripe. Columbine has a graceful, airy appearance and is a favored plant in garden borders, woodland gardens, and naturalized areas for its ethereal beauty and ease of growing.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      European Columbine, Granny's Bonnet, Common Columbine

    • Common names

      Aquilegia atrata, Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata, Aquilegia vulgaris var. plena, Aquilegia vulgaris var. alba, Aquilegia vulgaris var. clematiflora, Aquilegia vulgaris var. dumicola, Aquilegia vulgaris var. flore-pleno, Aquilegia vulgaris var. glandulosa, Aquilegia vulgaris var. haylodgensis, Aquilegia vulgaris var. hortensis, Aquilegia vulgaris var. indurata, Aquilegia vulgaris var. nana, Aquilegia vulgaris var. pallida, Aquilegia vulgaris var. parviflora, Aquilegia vulgaris var. pleniflora, Aquilegia vulgaris var. pumila, Aquilegia vulgaris var. schizopetala, Aquilegia vulgaris var. speciosa, Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata, Aquilegia vulgaris var. sulcata.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) contains several harmful compounds, including cyanogenic glycosides that can release cyanide when the plant is damaged. Symptoms of poisoning may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Ingesting large quantities of the plant can potentially lead to more severe symptoms such as respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, and even death due to the release of cyanide.

    • To pets

      Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) is also toxic to pets due to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides. Consumption of columbine by pets can result in symptoms similar to those in humans, including gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Severe cases of ingestion can lead to more critical conditions like respiratory distress and heart complications, and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1-3 feet (30-90 cm)

    • Spread

      0.5-1 feet (15-30 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Pollinators: Aquilegia vulgaris, commonly known as columbine, is known for attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, beneficial for pollination in the garden.
    • Aesthetic Appeal: Columbine offers a range of colors through its distinctive spurred flowers, which can add beauty and visual interest to garden settings.
    • Habitat Enrichment: By providing nectar, columbine contributes to the biodiversity and sustenance of local wildlife in its native habitat.
    • Shade Tolerant: Columbine can thrive in partial shade, making it a versatile choice for gardeners dealing with various light conditions.
    • Easy to Grow: Being a hardy perennial, columbine is relatively easy to care for, requiring minimum maintenance once established.
    • Seasonal Interest: Columbine blooms in the late spring to early summer, filling a bloom gap between early spring flowers and summer perennials.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Diuretic: Aquilegia vulgaris has been traditionally used to promote the production of urine.
    • Astringent: The plant's astringent properties are thought to help tighten tissues and reduce secretions.
    • Sedative: It has been used historically for its potential sedative effects, helping to calm nerves and relieve anxiety.
    • Rheumatism: Traditionally, it has been used to relieve the symptoms associated with rheumatic pain.
    • Diaphoretic: Aquilegia vulgaris might help promote sweating, which is useful in reducing fevers.
    However, modern medical research supporting these uses is limited and the efficacy of Aquilegia vulgaris for these purposes is not established. Use of the plant for medicinal purposes should be approached with caution.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Aquilegia vulgaris, commonly known as Columbine, has been historically used as a symbol in heraldry, representing strength and resolve.
    • The flowers of the Columbine are a source of nectar for hummingbirds and bees, providing an essential benefit to garden ecosystems as a pollinator attractant.
    • The unique shape of Columbine flowers, with their spurs and delicate petals, has inspired artists and has been featured in paintings and botanical illustrations.
    • Columbine seed pods, once dried, can be used in decorative arrangements or as part of craft projects, adding a natural element to wreaths and other botanical displays.
    • The leaves of the Columbine can be incorporated into compost as a green layer, contributing to a balanced compost pile that enriches garden soil.
    • In folklore, Columbine flowers were thought to bring good luck and were sometimes planted near doorways and in cottage gardens for this purpose.
    • The resilient nature of Columbine, which allows it to grow in a range of conditions, makes it suitable for erosion control on slopes and banks.
    • During the Victorian era, Columbine flowers were used in the language of flowers, also known as floriography, to send messages of anxiety and folly due to their unique, nodding form.
    • Columbine's diverse range of colors and forms make it a popular choice among gardeners for creating visually appealing themed garden designs or color-specific flower beds.
    • The plant's ability to self-seed readily means it can be used to naturally propagate and populate wildflower meadows or informal garden areas.

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 in Adversity: The common name of Aquilegia vulgaris is Columbine, and it often represents one's courage and strength to endure challenges and adversities.
    • Foolishness: Due to the flower's resemblance to a jester's cap, the Columbine also symbolizes foolishness or folly in some historical contexts.
    • Deserted Love: In the language of flowers, the Columbine has been associated with the sentiments of deserted or forsaken love.
    • Wisdom: In another aspect, the Columbine stands for wisdom, an attribute potentially linked to its association with the Holy Spirit in Christian symbolism, where it is depicted alongside seven other flowers each representing a gift of the Holy Spirit.
    • Sanctity: Because of its traditional use in Christian art, often linked to the Holy Spirit, the Columbine may also embody sanctity and purity.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every year
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Columbines should be watered regularly to maintain moist but not soggy soil, especially during their first growing season to establish an extensive root system. After they are established, columbines are somewhat drought tolerant. Typically, you should water them with about 1 inch of water weekly, depending on the weather conditions. During hot, dry periods, you may need to water every couple of days. If you're using a watering can or garden hose, provide enough water to penetrate the soil to a depth of 6 inches to encourage deep rooting.

  • sunLight

    Columbines prefer partial shade to full sun, thriving best in spots that receive morning sunlight and afternoon shade, particularly in warmer climates. Dappled sun throughout the day is ideal for columbines, as intense afternoon sun can be harsh on the foliage in hot summer regions.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Columbines are cold-hardy plants typically preferring the cooler temperatures of USDA zones 3 through 8. They can survive minimum temperatures as low as -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit and are most comfortable when daytime temperatures are between 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Columbines can endure brief periods of higher temperatures but may struggle and require extra care in regions where temperatures exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune columbines to remove spent flowers and encourage a second bloom, typically after the first flush of spring flowering. Additionally, you should cut back the foliage to ground level in the fall to minimize the risk of pests and diseases overwintering in the foliage. The best time to prune is right after the blooming period, which is usually late spring or early summer, depending on the region.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) thrives in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. A mix of loam, compost, and a small amount of sand or perlite is optimal. Ensure the soil is rich in organic matter to support its growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Columbines—a common name for Aquilegia vulgaris—generally do not require frequent repotting and can be repotted every 2-3 years or when they outgrow their current containers.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Columbine prefers average to slightly above average humidity levels, but is quite adaptable and does not require any specific humidity adjustments.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Columbine in bright, indirect light, and ensure good air circulation.

    • Outdoor

      Choose a spot with partial shade and enrich soil with compost.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Aquilegia vulgaris, commonly known as Columbine, begins its life cycle as a seed that requires a period of cold stratification to germinate. Upon germination, the seed grows into a leafy rosette at ground level, and in its first year, the plant generally focuses on establishing a strong root system and vegetative growth. In the following spring, Columbine produces flowering stems that bear its distinctive spurred blossoms, which can be pollinated by bees, butterflies, or hummingbirds. After pollination, the flowers develop into follicles containing many black seeds that are dispersed by wind or gravity. The plant is a perennial and will enter a period of dormancy in winter, retracting energy back into the roots. The next year, it will resume growth from the same roots, beginning the cycle anew with vegetative growth followed by flowering and seed production.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Propogation: Columbine, or Aquilegia vulgaris, is commonly propagated through seed sowing. The best time to sow Columbine seeds is in late winter to early spring when the soil can still be cool, as this perennial benefits from a cold stratification period to break seed dormancy. To propagate Columbine by seeds, simply scatter the seeds over a well-draining soil mix and lightly cover with soil. It is important to maintain a moist environment for germination, but take care not to overwater to avoid rot. Germination can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days, and once seedlings have developed true leaves and are large enough to handle, they can be transplanted to their final growing positions, ensuring they are spaced about 1 to 2 feet apart to allow sufficient room for growth.