Aquilegia viridiflora 'Chocolate Soldier'
Common Name: columbine
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Chocolate purple petals and green sepals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers deep, rich, moist soils with light to moderate shade. Performs well in sun dappled shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils except heavy, poorly drained ones. Remove flowering stems after bloom to encourage additional bloom. Keep soils uniformly moist after bloom to prolong attractive foliage appearance. When foliage depreciates (often by mid-summer), plants may be cut to the ground. This plant may be grown from seed and may self-seed in the garden under optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aquilegia viridiflora, commonly known as green columbine, is a compact perennial that typically grows in a mound to only 12” tall. It is native to forests, grassy slopes, valleys, stream banks and wet places in China, Japan and Russia (Siberia). Nodding, sweetly fragrant flowers (each to 3/4” long) feature (a) yellowish-green sepals and petals, (b) yellowish-green to brownish-red petal limbs, and (c) short straight spurs. Flowers bloom in 3-7 flowered cymose inflorescences in spring (April- early June) over biternate blue-green leaves.

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

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word viridiflorus meaning having green flowers.

‘Chocolate Soldier’ features fragrant bi-color flowers with attractive and unusual chocolate purple petals, yellow-green sepals, brown spurs and contrasting yellow anthers.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to leaf miner. Watch for columbine borer. Foliage usually declines by mid-summer at which point it should be cut to the ground.

Garden Uses

Compact shape makes this one of the better columbines for rock gardens. Also good in border fronts, cottage gardens, open shade gardens or naturalized areas. Can be effective in the sun-dappled areas of woodland gardens. Continue to water plants after bloom to enjoy the ground cover effect of the attractive foliage.