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Aquilegia chrysantha – Golden Columbine

Golden columbine gets bigger and bushier than the more graceful and delicate American columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). Like American columbine, it is a herbaceous perennial native to the southwestern United States.

Golden columbine’s flowers are larger than American columbine’s, reaching  2-3 inches long.

golden columbine
Golden columbine in the spring perennial garden.

Golden columbine as pale lemon yellow flowers that border on ethereal. Leaves are three-lobed. It is a clumpy grower, reaching up to three feet tall and wide. It can handle full sun to part shade. I recommend you plant it in a place that is in the shade at the times you are in the garden.

Water and soil quality requirements are average or medium…and by this I mean you don’t need to prepare the soil to the Nth degree (although your columbine will appreciate some compost mixed in), but hardscrabble soil conditions will not do.

aquilegia chrysantha
The eagle talons for which columbine gets its genus name.

Golden columbine can be cut back in summer

Let the flowers go to seed if you would like more columbine the following year. Golden columbine, unlike many of the European columbine hybrids, will come true to seed. It is not an aggressive spreader in the landscape, so the chance of columbine becoming an invasive problem are practically non-existent. One of my greatest gardening pleasures is finding columbine popping up in unexpected places in the garden. Many gardeners weed fanatically. Allow columbine to reseed around the garden. More thoughts on placing columbine around the garden can be found here.

Evenly moist soil is best. You need to watch the soil drainage. Many herbaceous perennials will tolerate just about anything but wet feet in winter, and golden columbine is no different. It is hardy zones 3-9, so northern gardeners can grow columbine with no problems.

Deer and rabbits do not like columbine. Flowers and the foliage may look tasty, but animals leave columbine alone. The sap can irritate the skin, so maybe it has defense systems in place to ward off hungry visitors.

Golden columbine is also known as golden-spur columbine. Consider reading a nice write-up on golden columbine from the U.S. Forest Service.

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