Columbine (Aquilegia) flowers are an excellent choice for any decorative garden as they come in a variety of bright colors. Additionally, the columbine flower is to care for and will thrive in many qualities of soil. Columbines naturally attract butterflies and hummingbirds while repelling deer. When cut, their stems will prove long-lasting in a vase of water. Since they are an open cup flower columbines are ideal for companion planting.
Columbines prefer to light to moderate shade and bloom during either spring or summer, depending upon variety. They are generally easy to grow and work well as borders or within containers. The flowers prefer moist but well-drained soil, although even a poor quality soil can be used with additionally watering. The perennial columbines self-seed and often form hybrids when placed near other variants naturally. The most common natural disease for columbine is leaf-miners which can be easily spotted.
The variety of columbines is vast! The Blue Barlow columbine is a purple-tinged flower with shaggy-looking double flowers. The Canadian columbine can rise to 3 feet tall on ferns and produce a contrasting red and yellow bloom. The McKana columbine comes in almost every color of the rainbow (except for true orange) and has a long season of bloom. The Rocky Mountain columbine, also the state flower of Colorado, is a delicate white and blue flower sometimes available in pink and yellow as well. The Yellow columbine, native to the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico, produce yellow blossoms on top of blue-green foliage. The possibilities with the columbine flower are endless!
Companion planting is an excellent practice for any skill level of gardener. By using the natural substances contained within a plant’s roots your garden can both repel unwanted insects and attract those with useful traits. Companion planting can also be used to group flowers that prefer similar conditions.
Using companion plants as a border, backdrop, or interplanting in your garden beds will allow you to harness the ecosystem to its full potential. It is best to use plants native to your area so that the insects you seek to attract will know what to look for!
Choice Companions for Columbines
Phlox, a purplish-blue woodland flower, work well with columbines to form a shady border. Both types of flowers prefer light to moderate shade and bloom in the mid- to late spring. Another border option is the toad lily, which blooms just after the columbine wanes in spring, leading to a beautiful garden throughout the season.
A good vegetable companion to the columbine is rhubarb which, in addition to its nutritional qualities, deters the red spider mites which often prey on columbines. Rhubarb leaves can also form a natural deterrent to blackspot on roses when boiled.
Other light-shade lovings plants prove good companions to columbines. These include ferns, woodland flowers, Jeepers Creepers Tiarella, Chocolate Chip Ajuga and hostas. Cottage or prairie plants, such as False Indigo or Autumn Bluch Coreopsis, can be combined to create an informal feel while allowing varying soil conditions and light shade to yield blossoms.