Columbines, beloved by hummingbirds, are perfect for cut flowers and have a long season of bloom. Midsize spurred flowers with complex form bloom on wiry stems, floating above a rosette of compound leaves. This perennial grows single, double, and even triple flowers in red, yellow, blue, white, pink, purple, or a combination.
How to grow: Columbines are easy to grow in fertile, well-drained garden soil, in full sun or partial shade. Many types live for only a few years, so allow a few plants to self-sow for continued stock. For neatness, cut back stalks after plants finish flowering.
Propagation: From seed.
Uses: Columbines are excellent in beds and borders. Dwarf forms are good for rock gardens.
Related species: Aquilegia caerulea, Colorado columbine, has sky-blue blossoms and white centers on wiry stems growing to two feet. Aquilegia canadensis is the wild Eastern columbine, with graceful flowers having long, red spurs and yellow faces on one- to two-foot stems.
Related varieties: The hybrid types vary between one to three feet in height and are available in many varieties and colors. Among the best are the Music hybrids.
Scientific name: Aquilegia species