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Aquilegia Formosa

Aquilegia formosa belongs to the buttercup flower family, the Ranunculaceae. This columbine flower is commonly known as Red Columbine, Red Wild Columbine, Crimson Columbine and Western Columbine. However, Aquilegia canadensis is also known as Red Columbine.

aquilegia Formosa is a columbine flower
Photo: Walter Siegmund

This wild columbine flower is native to western North America. It can grow up to about 0.9 metres (3 feet) in height and 45 centimetres (18 inches) in width.

It is a short-lived perennial herb that has a rapid growth rate. The multiple stems grow erect. The foliage has a nice mid-green colour.

The attractive flowers are rather large: about 5 centimetres (2 inches) long.

The spurs and the outer sepals have an orange to bright red colour and the inner petals are yellow. The flowering period is quite long: from early spring to August.

These beautiful columbine plants are ideal for near natural and cottage gardens. They are excellent butterfly garden plants. They are a nectar source for sphinx moths especially, but also for other moths, butterflies, bumblebees, bees and hummingbirds. Other birds feast on the seeds.

A. formosa prefers to grow in full sun to partial shade. The soil should be kept fertile and well drained. The spent flowers should be deadheaded to promote a prolonged bloom. Cut the plant down to the ground once the blooming period is over. This will rejuvenate the plant.

You can easily grow these columbine flowers from seeds. Buy some seeds or collect them from your plants (do not deadhead some flowers and let them develop seeds). Pot up the seeds in fall and put them in a cold place for three months. Then, take them inside in a warm environment where seeds will sprout. Then, plant the young seedlings in your garden.

List of A. Formosa Variations:

A. formosa var. formosa
A. formosa var. pauciflora
A. formosa var. truncata
A. formosa var. wawawensis


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