Aquilegia Canadensis, otherwise known as Columbine, is a wonderful native herbaceous perennial that thrives on the Eastern Shore when planted in moist but well drained soils and sunny mornings with afternoon shade.
A plant only has to live for three years to be listed an herbaceous perennial, and Columbine lives for three, sometimes four years, before it dies out.
Luckily, Columbine produces a lot of seeds that are always just like the mother plant, so with all the seedlings it seems that the plants never die at all.
The foliage is delicate and almost lacy, staying green all year long and adding color to the gardens even in winter.
It is the springtime when the bell-like flowers begin to bloom in bright colors of red and yellow.
The flowers are unusually shaped, with five bright red upward facing spurs and a red cup around the yellow inner petals.
The flowers remind me of shooting stars and the butterflies love the tasty nectar they provide.
When the flowers are in bloom it is important to make sure the soil is moist.
Once the flowers are finished, the seed capsules can be pruned off, but be sure to leave a few to allow the seeds to grow into new plants.
(Editor’s Note: Ginny Rosenkranz is a commercial horticulture specialist with the University of Maryland Extension.)