Rocky Mountain columbine Aquilegia coerulea

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


A. coerulea is an upright perennial with mid-green leaves and deeply lobed leaflets; hairy on their undersides. Flowers are bicoloured with pale to dark blue, wide-spreading sepals and white petals with slender spurs

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Colorado Blue Columbine, Rocky Mountain Columbine.

    • Common names

      Aquilegia caerulea James ex Torr., Aquilegia coerulea E.James, Aquilegia coerulea var. alpina (Cockerell) Payson, Aquilegia coerulea var. caerulea, Aquilegia coerulea var. ochroleuca (Cockerell) Payson, Aquilegia coerulea var. pinetorum (Tidestr.) Payson, Aquilegia daileyae Munz, Aquilegia saximontana Rydb.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2 feet (0.61 meters)

    • Spread

      1 foot (0.30 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      North America


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Pollinators: Aquilegia coerulea, commonly known as Colorado blue columbine, invites beneficial pollinators like hummingbirds and bees to the garden, which can help with the pollination of nearby plants.
    • Aesthetic Appeal: With its distinctive blue flowers and contrasting yellow stamens, the Colorado blue columbine adds striking visual interest and color to gardens and landscapes.
    • Wildlife Habitat: Provides nectar for a variety of wildlife, serving as an important food source for insects and birds within its ecosystem.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, Colorado blue columbine is relatively drought-resistant, making it suitable for xeriscaping or gardens with low water availability.
    • Easy to Grow: It is considered an easy plant to cultivate in a variety of soil types, as long it is well-draining, making it a good choice for novice gardeners.
    • Symbolic State Flower: As the state flower of Colorado, it has cultural and symbolic importance, and can be used in state-themed gardens or educational settings.
    • Shade Tolerance: Colorado blue columbine is capable of growing in partially shaded areas, thus it can be planted under trees or in shadowed parts of a garden where other flowers might struggle to thrive.

  • 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

    • Aquilegia coerulea, commonly known as Colorado Blue Columbine, can be used as a natural dye, providing a range of colors when alum is used as a mordant.
    • The seeds of the Colorado Blue Columbine can be pressed to extract oil for use in artistic endeavors, such as natural oil paints.
    • The spurs of the Colorado Blue Columbine's flowers are sometimes used in sugar craft for making delicate and edible cake decorations when crystallized.
    • The unique shape of the Colorado Blue Columbine flowers inspires artists and photographers who use them as subjects for art pieces, photography projects, or botanical illustrations.
    • Fine hairs on the stems and leaves can be used in traditional crafts, such as the making of dream catchers or other woven decorations.
    • Children sometimes use the inflated seed pods to create natural poppers by squeezing them until they burst, producing a pop sound.
    • The Colorado Blue Columbine has symbolic value and is sometimes used in state ceremonies and celebrations as it is the state flower of Colorado.
    • The plant's dried flowers and seed pods can be incorporated in potpourri mixes for its aesthetic appeal and subtle scent.
    • Landscapers and garden designers often use Colorado Blue Columbine in wildflower and rock gardens for its attractive foliage and flowers.
    • Often used as a parental species in horticulture to hybridize with other Aquilegia species, creating new ornamental flower varieties.

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: The name "Aquilegia" derives from the Latin word "aquila," meaning eagle. The spurred petals of the Aquilegia coerulea, also known as the Colorado Blue Columbine, are said to resemble an eagle's talons, symbolizing strength and courage.
    • Determination: Colorado Blue Columbines can grow in hardy conditions, often found in high altitude regions, which represents the tenacity and determination to thrive despite challenges.
    • Fertility: The abundance of the Columbine's blossoms in the spring season is often associated with fertility and new life, symbolizing nature's capacity for renewal.
    • Love and Affection: Due to the Columbine's unique and delicate flowers, it has become a symbol of love, and giving a Columbine is thought to express romantic or affectionate feelings.
    • Resolve: Because the Colorado Blue Columbine survives and even flourishes in tough mountainous environments, it is frequently recognized as a symbol of inner resolve and the ability to endure personal hardship.

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

    The plant commonly known as Columbine prefers evenly moist soil and requires regular watering. It should be watered deeply once or twice a week, providing about 1 to 1.5 gallons of water each time, depending on the weather conditions. During hot and dry periods, watering frequency should be increased to maintain moisture. Ensure that water penetrates the soil up to 6 inches deep to encourage deep root growth. Avoid overhead watering to minimize the risk of fungal diseases.

  • sunLight

    Columbine thrives best in a spot that receives partial sun to light shade. It can tolerate full sun in cooler climates but prefers protection from the harsh afternoon sun in warmer regions. Morning sun with afternoon shade or dappled sunlight throughout the day is ideal for this plant's optimal growth and flower production.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Columbine is hardy in temperatures as low as -30°F and can withstand up to 90°F, although it prefers cooler conditions. The ideal temperature range for Columbine is between 50°F to 70°F. Extremes outside of this range may stress the plant or cause dormancy.

  • scissorsPruning

    Columbine benefits from pruning to remove spent flowers and encourage a second bloom. Deadheading, or the removal of faded flowers, can be done throughout the blooming season. After the first killing frost, trim the foliage back to ground level. Pruning in late fall or early spring before new growth begins helps maintain a tidy appearance and promotes plant health.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Columbia blue columbine thrives in well-draining, loamy soil with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0. A good mix for this plant would be two parts garden soil, one part peat moss or compost, and one part perlite or coarse sand to enhance drainage. Adding organic matter yearly will help maintain soil fertility and structure.

  • plantRepotting

    Columbia blue columbine typically does not require frequent repotting as it's a perennial that can remain in the same spot for several years. Generally, repotting every 3-4 years is sufficient unless the plant is outgrowing its current container, wherein it should be repotted to prevent crowding and promote healthy growth.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Columbia blue columbine prefers moderate humidity but is quite adaptable and can tolerate a range of humidity conditions as long as it's not too dry. No specific humidity level is required, but avoiding extremely dry air, especially during winter indoor heating, can be beneficial for plant health.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Ensure bright, indirect light and cool temperatures for indoor growth.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade with moist, fertile soil outside.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Aquilegia coerulea, commonly known as Colorado blue columbine, begins its life cycle as a seed that germinates in spring when temperatures are cool and moisture is ample. The seedling emerges, developing into a vegetative plant with characteristic lobed leaves; it continues to grow and establish a strong root system throughout the first year. In its second year and each subsequent year, the columbine produces flowering stalks in late spring to early summer, adorned with distinctive blue and white spurred flowers that attract pollinators like bees and hummingbirds. After pollination, the flowers develop into fruit capsules containing numerous small black seeds that mature by late summer. These seeds are then dispersed by wind or through mechanical means, such as wildlife or human activity. The plant may also spread vegetatively through its underground rhizomes, and it typically goes dormant in winter, retreating into the soil until the next growing season.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to Summer

    • The most popular method of propagating Aquilegia coerulea, commonly known as Colorado Blue Columbine, is by seed. The best time to sow seeds is in late winter to early spring, after the threat of frost has passed. Seeds should be sown on the surface of a well-draining soil mix and lightly covered with soil. A clear plastic cover can be placed over the pot to maintain humidity. It's important to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Germination can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Once seedlings are large enough to handle, they can be transplanted into individual pots or in their desired location in the garden.