A relatively new hybrid columbine, called the Swan series, has performed so well in LSU AgCenter trials it has been named a Louisiana Super Plants selection for fall 2011.
Columbines are among the most graceful of garden flowers. The foliage is lacy and bluish-green and reminds me of maidenhair fern fronds. The slightly nodding flowers are complexly formed and often include two contrasting colors. A notable feature of the flowers is the long spurs that extend behind the petals.
The varieties in the Swan series are all similar in how they grow except for flower color. Within the Swan series the varieties are named based on the flower color and include Swan Blue and White, Swan White, Swan Yellow, Swan Pink and Yellow, Swan Burgundy and White, Swan Violet and White, Swan Rose and White and Swan Red and White.
Transplants of Swan columbines at your local nurseries should be purchased and planted in fall for the most spectacular floral display in spring. Planting can be done all winter and as late as February. Plants in 4-inch pots are a great size to plant in fall because they are economical and the plants have all winter to grow and develop.
Swan columbines grow well in full sun to part shade – one of the few cool-season bedding plants that bloom well in part shade. Enrich the bed where they are planted with generous amounts of compost or other organic materials and a light sprinkling of general purpose-fertilizer. Space the plants 12 inches apart.