Aquilegia 'Swallowtail'
Common Name: columbine
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Zone: 5 to 10
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellow and lemon-yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Easily grown in average, evenly moist, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils except heavy, poorly-drained ones. Prefers organically rich, moist soils with light to moderate shade. Remove flowering stems after bloom to encourage additional bloom. Keep soils uniformly moist after bloom to prolong attractive foliage appearance. When foliage depreciates, plants may be cut to the ground. It should be noted that seed collected from garden plants or self-seeded plants may not come true because different varieties of columbine may cross-pollinate in the garden producing seed that is at variance with either or both parents.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aquilegia is a genus of about 70 species of herbaceous perennials from the Northern Hemisphere.

Genus name comes from the Latin word for eagle in reference to the flower’s five spurs which purportedly resemble an eagle’s talon.

Common name of granny's bonnet is in reference to the spreading bonnet-like appearance of the flower petals.

‘Swallowtail’ plants were reportedly found growing in the wild in a mountainous area in Pima County, Arizona. The parentage for this plant has not yet been determined. This is a clumping perennial that typically grows to 24-30” tall and 18” wide. Yellow and lemon-yellow bicolor flowers with 4” long trailing spurs bloom in May to early June. Blue-green leaves.


Susceptible to leaf miner. Aphids are a lesser problem. Potential disease problems include leaf spot, powdery mildew and rust. Foliage usually declines by mid-summer at which point it should be cut to the ground.

Garden Uses

Borders, rock gardens, cottage gardens, open shade gardens, woodland gardens or naturalized areas. Also a good selection for a hummingbird garden. Continue to water plants after bloom to enjoy the ground cover effect of the foliage.