Aquilegia caerulea – growing the Classic Blue Colorado Columbine

If you are from my own home state or spent any amount of time there, you will know my choice of favorite plant from the Rocky Mountains is rather cliché – but what can I say? I am a Colorado girl, I am from the most beautiful state (you can’t argue with me on this point) and this is one of the most beautiful native plants as well as the most recognized state symbol in our whole country. No wonder we are so proud.

Columbine among a field of other wildflowers (including Indian paintbrush) at Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado. image by Jason Hollinger

As a child, I remember wanting to pick the pretty blue flowers (as all little kids want to do) when we were on family excursions to Pikes Peak, Longs Peak, or up the road from Ida Ho Springs to the top of Mount Evans. My parents always acted like we were going to be immediately arrested if I picked the flowers – I have no idea how rational that was – but I think I only once gave into temptation.

From Wikipedia:

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 20-60 cm tall. The flowers are very variable in color, from pale blue (as in the species name caerulea) to white, pale yellow and pinkish; very commonly the flowers are bicolored, with the sepals a different shade to the petals.
Aquilegia caerulea is the state flower of Colorado. It is also a popular ornamental plant in gardens, with numerous cultivars selected for different flower colors.

Colorado State Flower - Columbine - All about this native Plant
Colorado’s state flower is the Rocky Mountain Columbine. This beautiful and unique flower has white petals with a hint of lavender and a yellow center. It was designated as the state flower in 1899 and can be found blooming in the Rocky Mountains during the summer months.

1. DSCN0275, 2. in the garden…, 3. Columbine 4, 4. Colorado Columbines (Rocky Mountain Columbine), 5. columbine, 6. cool columbine, 7. Alpine Columbine-015934, 8. Colorado Columbine, 9. Columbine flower…beautifull colors!

Aquilegia caerulea (Rocky Mountain Columbine) is planted for its beautiful blue and white flowers. Native to the higher elevations of the Intermountain West, it is best suited to mountain gardens with well-drained soil and areas of the West with cool nights. I hardly ever remember seeing it on the front range in people’s plains garden (but I think it would be worth trying to grow there).

Columbines near Monarch Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado. Michael Levine-Clark.

It is easy to grow lots of other varieties of Columbine, but the true blue and white variety, which is a native wildflower of the Rocky Mountain region, is not easy to find. 

Cottage gardens are a great place for these pretty plants – they spread casually front seed.  they are easy to grow, and their upright stems tend to hold the flowers above most other surrounding perennials.  

More Columbine, Latin blue plants, and Colorado Gardens:

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  1. This is a very beautiful flower, I like this flower by bringing peace, love life, happiness … give us a beautiful life happy every day when watching them.

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