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Ohio NativesPlantsJune 1, 2023by Colin0Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Eastern Red Columbine, scientifically known as Aquilegia canadensis, is a stunning native perennial that adds a vibrant pop of color to gardens and natural landscapes. With its unique and intricate flowers, Eastern Red Columbine is a favorite among gardeners and plant enthusiasts. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history, growing instructions, maintenance tips, and other important aspects of Eastern Red Columbine.

History and Significance

Eastern Red Columbine holds both historical and ecological significance. Native to North America, including parts of Ohio, this plant has been cherished for centuries. Native American tribes valued its medicinal properties and used it to treat various ailments. Additionally, the flowers of Eastern Red Columbine are pollinator magnets, attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, making it an important plant for supporting local ecosystems.

Growing Eastern Red Columbine

Here are some essential guidelines for successfully growing Eastern Red Columbine:

  1. Location: Eastern Red Columbine thrives in partial shade to full sun conditions. In Ohio, it prefers locations with filtered sunlight or areas that receive morning sun and afternoon shade. Choose a well-draining location that is sheltered from strong winds.
  2. Soil: Eastern Red Columbine prefers moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Ensure that the soil is loose and loamy to allow for proper root development. If the soil is heavy clay, amend it with compost or well-rotted organic matter to improve drainage.
  3. Planting: The ideal time to plant Eastern Red Columbine is in early spring or early fall. Start with nursery-bought plants or sow seeds indoors and transplant them once they have developed a few leaves. Dig holes that are slightly larger than the root balls of the plants and space them about 12 to 18 inches apart. Place the plants in the holes, backfill with soil, and gently firm the soil around the roots. Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil.
  4. Watering: Eastern Red Columbine prefers consistent moisture but can tolerate periods of dryness once established. Water the plants deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry. Avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot. Mulching around the plants can help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
  5. Maintenance: Eastern Red Columbine is a relatively low-maintenance plant. Remove any weeds that may compete with the plants for nutrients and water. Deadhead the spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming and prevent self-seeding. In late fall, after the foliage has turned brown, you can cut it back to the ground. This helps the plant conserve energy for the following growing season.

Color Variations

Eastern Red Columbine typically features red and yellow flowers, with red sepals and yellow petals. However, natural variations and cultivars can exhibit different color combinations, including red, yellow, orange, and even bi-colored flowers. These variations add an extra element of visual interest to your garden.

Interesting Facts

  • Eastern Red Columbine is the state wildflower of Colorado.
  • The unique shape of the flowers and the elongated spurs have led to the plant being nicknamed “granny’s bonnet” or “rock bells.”
  • Eastern Red Columbine is a short-lived perennial but often self-seeds, allowing new plants to emerge in the garden.

Eastern Red Columbine is a stunning native plant that adds a touch of elegance and vibrant color to gardens and landscapes. With its unique flowers, adaptability to various growing conditions, and ecological significance, it is an excellent choice for gardeners who want to support local ecosystems and enjoy the beauty of native flora.

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