Fan Columbine (Aquilegia flabellata)
Fan Columbine (Aquilegia flabellata)
I find columbine flowers very intriguing. They are composed of 5 petals plus a short broad tube in front and 5 sepals (modified leaves) projecting backward forming spurs. The sepals and petals may be the same color or different colors creating great diversity in the look of the basic flower. I think it is the spurs that tickle my imagination. They can be hooked, curved, or straight depending on the species and give the plant its unique look. Those of A. flabellata are hooked.

Fan Columbine (A. flabellata 'Mini Star)
Fan Columbine (A. flabellata 'Mini Star)

I particularly like this species because it is small and compact, perfect for the front of the border where the unique flowers can be savored. The leaves are blue-green, rounded, and fan shaped, and are a plus even after the blooms fade.

Type: Herbaceous perennial.

Bloom: Spring-early summer with nodding flowers in blue, white, or a combination of blue and white and pink.

Size: 4”-12” depending on the variety/cultivar.

Light: Light-moderate shade (tolerates more sun in cool areas).

Soil: Rich with plenty of moisture but tolerates average soil as long as it is well drained.

Fertilizer: Mulch with organic material in spring.

Hardiness: Zones 3-9.

Care: Deadheading will encourage more blooming.

Pests and Diseases: Prone to leaf miner as other columbines are. When the foliage gets ratty looking cut the plant down. It will soon send up new, fresh leaves that last for the rest of the season.

Propagation: Self seeds easily.

Companion plants: Heuchera, small ferns, Tiarella, bleeding heart; small hosta.

Outstanding Selections:
‘Akitensis’ blue and white
‘Alba’ – (‘Pumila Alba’, ‘Nana Alba’) – white; blooms a little bit earlier than the species
‘Blue Angel’ grows 8-10 inches tall and has lavender and cream flowers
‘Cameo Mix’ – shades of blue, pink and white.
‘Ministar’ – white and blue; 6”-8” tall
var. pumila- mauve and white; 4” tall

Plant profiles pointer

By Karen

3 thoughts on “Plant Profile: Fan Columbine (Aquilegia flabellata)”
  1. I like them but I’ve never managed to keep the named varieties for long. Irritatingly they seed and I end up with pale wishy washy pink and the occasional dark blue.

  2. I think that is typical of columbines in general. I seemed to have an A. flabatellata for many years but I suspect that it was a product of reseeding. Mine was white and so were the offspring. It came up in the same place every year, or nearly so, and I was content to enjoy it for whatever it was. Thanks for your comment. I think your experience was more typical than mine.

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