Maureen Thiessen, Edwards, Ashley, Abdi, Damon, Fields, Jeb S.
Well known as a perennial in many northern climates, columbine makes an elegant annual addition to the cool-season southern garden. Columbine typically features beautiful deep green, parsley-like leaves in addition to complex, two-toned, bell-shaped flowers.
Beyond its outstanding performance during LSU cool-season trials, the Swan series is more vigorous in growth and produces larger blooms than many other columbine varieties. Because it is adapted to colder climates, gardeners do not have to fret about protecting it from winter frost. In fact, columbine often embraces this cool weather. Planting columbine in the fall often produces the best spring bloom display. Flowers will begin to appear atop tall spikes rising above the foliage in March, with blooms consisting of five prominent, colored sepals with five tubular petals, oftentimes varying in color, in front of them. The individual petals narrow to a sharp point, otherwise known as a spur, which protrude behind the flower and secrete nectar. The Swan series has varieties in many striking sepal-petal color combinations, including blue and white, burgundy and white, pink and yellow, rose and white, and several other tantalizing tandems. In addition to providing cool-season color in the landscape, the flower spikes make excellent cut flowers, bolstering bouquets with a unique two-tone touch.
Columbine can be planted through the end of February and often blooms until the start of summer, right around May. Columbines prefer well-drained soil and bloom happily in partial shade as well as full sun. Non-flowering transplants can easily be found in nurseries across Louisiana in the fall, with more mature transplants becoming available as winter progresses to spring.
Swan series columbines have very few pest problems if established in well-drained soil and are fairly resistant to deer. Once the summer heat sets in, plants will begin to deteriorate and replacement with summer annuals is recommended.
The Swan series columbine has varieties in many striking color combinations. LSU AgCenter file photo
The Swan series produces larger blooms than many other columbine varieties. LSU AgCenter file photos
Columbine can be planted through the end of February and often blooms until the start of summer.