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After a long winter without their perky presence, it’s a joy each spring to see the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds return from their annual sojourn down South. Welcome them back to your garden with Eastern Red Columbine! This jaunty native wildflower starts blooming exactly when the hummers return, its blaze-red petals drawing them near for a closer look. So begins the mutually beneficial dance that has gone on for eons—the birds getting sweet nectar to fuel their frantic flights, and the plants getting pollination. Finches and buntings benefit from Eastern Red Columbine as well—they eat the seeds in late summer and fall.
May Benefit & Attract: Hummingbirds, finches, and buntings
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-8
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Recommended by Our Growers
Native to most of the eastern U.S. and extending into Canada, Eastern Red Columbine is a well-known and well-loved wildflower. It has been given many pet names, including rock bells, rock lily, honeysuckle, cluckies, and meeting houses (for the resemblance of the spurs to the steeples on meeting houses, or churches). “Columbine” itself comes from the Latin word for dove. To some early Native American tribes, Columbine was thought to be effective as a love potion. To Europeans, however, it inspired other ideas. To give a woman a Columbine bouquet indicated that her husband had been unfaithful!
Eastern Red Columbine blooms at the same time as another of our native wildflowers, Woodland Phlox. The two make a pretty pair. Try them together in light shade at the forest’s edge or under a shade tree in your yard.
How to Grow
In the wild, Eastern Red Columbine is adaptable, sometimes clinging to rocky outcroppings, other times making itself at home on the forest floor. In the garden, it is best in moist but well-drained soil and part shade. It’s easy to please. The only issue that may arise is leaf miner, an insect that burrows into the foliage, making telltale trail marks. This is not a serious problem, and it is less common on this species than on others. Red Columbine is typically a short-lived Accent, though it does reseed readily. New plants will pop up here and there, generally flowering in their second year.
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