Columbine, also known as granny’s bonet, is a genus of around 70 species of hardy perennials native across the Northern Hemisphere.
In the United States, these wildflowers are found growing naturally in meadows, mountainsides, and woodland areas. They are celebrated for their rustic yet pleasing appearance, and work well when planted in a wildflower-inspired flower bed.
Everyone knows that the official state flower of Colorado is the Colorado blue columbine, but what about the other types of columbine flowers? After all, even the most passionate floraphiles won’t know of all the columbine varieties.
So, if you want to learn about the rarer varieties of columbine, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 10 types of Columbine flowers you may not have seen!
Black flowers aren’t exactly easy to come by, which is why the columbine “Black Barlow” variety is so special. This cultivar is haunting yet incredibly attractive with its dark purple petals, resembling a blackish color.
The velvet texture of the petals also works to make the color appear darker.
Unlike other columbine cultivars, the Black Barlow is double flowering, meaning that it possesses another layer of petals to make the flower appear fuller. It also does not have spurs, which are typically characteristic of columbine flowers.
Black Barlows are early bloomers, producing flowers from early spring to summer. These are self seeding flowers that will produce more stems after the first bloom – though they are still short-living perennials.
They grow best in well-drained soil and partial shade.
One of the most underrated columbine cultivars is “Chocolate Soldier”. This cultivar is known for its drooping head, much like a snowdrop, and unique coloration. It’s almost shy of its appearance, which is what makes this variety so alluring.
Chocolate Soldier consists of pale green outer petals and brownish-mauve inner petals, creating a chocolate-like appearance. This is emphasized by the brownish-mauve spurs and stems. The flower is nodding, much like a soldier, hence the name.
This is a short-living and small cultivar that only flowers in spring and summer, making it ideal for decorating the border of a flower bed. It grows best in full sun or partial shade, and requires shelter from other plants to protect the delicate flower heads.
Columbine “Earlybird Purple and White” is most known for its vibrancy. As the name suggests, this cultivar produces long spurred flowers with purple outer petals and white inner petals.
Complete with pale yellow stamen, this is a must-have for a spring garden.
As a short-lived and clumped perennial, the Earlybird Purple and White works best along the border of a flower bed to compliment other flowers.
It’s an ideal choice for a cottage-style theme in your backyard. However, they also work well as a cut flower, lasting up to 2 weeks if cut properly.
As with most perennials, this cultivar will need regular dead-heading to promote the growth of new flowers. Other varieties of this cultivar include blue and white or pink and white.
While it will happily self-seed, this columbine cultivar has a controlled growing habitat and won’t become invasive.
Columbine “Golden” is a wildflower native to North America. It’s fairly common in the wild, so you’ve probably seen one or two of these cheery yellow flowers in the woods or on a mountainside.
Despite this, they can still be bought and grown for use in backyards, as they make a wonderful decorative wildflower on flower bed borders.
As the name suggests, this flower consists of long yellow spurs, pale yellow sepals, and bright yellow inner petals, making it appear golden.
What’s most interesting about this cultivar is that the flower faces the sky, which is why people often associate it with a bird preparing to take flight.
This is a hardy little perennial that can grow in full sun or partial shade, and either exposed or sheltered environments. Its bushy foliage is ideal for those wanting a wildflower backyard.
As the name suggests, this columbine cultivar is known for its distinctive oriental-style appearance. This garden-dweller features burgundy outer petals and curved spurs with yellow inner petals.
Thanks to the curling petals and spurs, the flower resembles something like a pagoda, hence the name.
Unlike most columbine flowers, this cultivar is a nodding flower, which is why it’s not typically popular in backyards.
While you won’t see the glorious yellow petals from above, it still makes a stunning filler along a border, and a unique talking piece in your garden.
The Oriental columbine is native to North America as well as northern Asia and provides a great source for pollinators. This is ideal if you want to introduce bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies to your garden.
Just because winter is over doesn’t mean you can’t plant Christmas-themed flowers in springtime! The columbine “Crimson Star” cultivar is a perfect example of why bringing different seasons into your backyard is so exciting.
The bright red sepals mixed with the white inner petals makes for a festive appearance, much like a candy cane.
This fun hybrid doesn’t exactly scream “native wildflower”, but it’s certainly an exciting addition to a flower bed border. They grow best in full morning sun and partial shade in the afternoon, and well-drained soil.
Aside from the beautiful appearance, a key highlight of the brightly colored Crimson Star is that it attracts pollinating wildlife. This is a great way to encourage butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds into your backyard.
Not everyone is a fan of hybrid flowers. So, if you want to include more wildflowers into your backyard, check out the columbine “Eastern Red”.
This is a classic North American wildflower, featuring reddish-pink nodding heads and spurs, and yellow interior petals.
Unlike other columbine cultivars that are typically short and clumped, the Eastern Red variety stands at 3 feet tall. This is ideal for allowing a nice amount of height dimension in your backyard, especially if you wish to have a wildflower-inspired flower bed.
The long, showy spurs are great for encouraging pollinating wildlife into your backyard. As a self-seeding flower, it’s a confident perennial that will continue to grow over several years.
It does not tolerate full sunlight well thanks to the delicate petals, so make sure to plant in partial shade.
Possibly one of the daintiest columbine cultivars, the columbine “Utah” is a delicate addition to any backyard. As the name suggests, this cultivar is most frequently found in Utah and Nevada, hidden in rocky crevices on hillsides and forests.
This makes them a great addition to a rock garden in your backyard.
This is a long-spurred columbine that features pale lilac outer petals, long lilac spurs, and white inner petals. In most cases, the spurs are darker than the sepals, making the flower look bigger than it actually is.
This plant grows best in rock gardens, well-drained soil, and partial shade. Due to the native climate of this cultivar, it does not grow well in hot and humid climates.
This cultivar is certainly dressed to impress with its upright stature, maroon sepals, and white inner petals. Like most columbine cultivars, the William Guinness features small spurs, making for a smartly dressed and very attractive little flower.
Plus, standing at 30 inches tall, it’s certainly a good wildflower for a charming flower bed.
This is a fairly long-lasting perennial with an average lifespan of 2–5 years until it reaches maximum height. It’s a hardy cultivar, able to withstand exposure or shelter and either full sun or partial shade.
In terms of maintenance, this cultivar blooms both its flowers and foliage in spring and summer. Therefore, it will need to be cut back in fall and winter to promote healthy growth for the next year.
As the name suggests, the Siberian columbine is native to Central Asia, found predominantly in the Siberian region. Despite its origins, this little wildflower is surprisingly tolerant of warm weather and grows well across North America.
The Siberian columbine is known for its stunning blue outer petals and pale blue, almost white inner petals. It’s dainty yet breathtaking, and grows particularly well in lower elevations. It prefers to grow in full morning sun and afternoon shade.
The one downside to this cultivar is that it shouldn’t be planted near other columbines if you wish for more of the blue flowers. This is because the cross-contamination of the self-seeding flowers means you won’t often get the same color again.
So, there you have it! Columbine flowers are undoubtedly a beloved wildflower to grow in your backyard, or even just to admire when out in the wilderness.
Now that you know what the most unknown columbine cultivars look like, you might spot a couple varieties when exploring your local woodland area.
Alternatively, hopefully this list has inspired you to buy some seeds and make the spring bed of your dreams.