Columbines are lovely plants that like a bit more water than many of our dryland plants and prefer growing conditions at higher, cooler elevations. They grow in areas with full sun to shade, depending on elevation. Columbines often get powdery mildew when in shady or damp areas, and leaves can be affected by leaf miner insects. These problems are mainly cosmetic. Cut back columbine immediately after flowering to control its often prolific reseeding. Two species worth considering are A. chrysantha A. Gray (golden columbine), a southwestern species that tolerates cold, and A. coerulea James (Colorado blue columbine), a Wyoming native. Wyoming also harbors a couple of endemic columbines, A. jonesii Parry and A. laramiensis A. Nelson. Both are diminutive beauties that are great for rock gardens and more-experienced gardeners; you’ll have to grow them from seed.
Water needs: moderate
Exposure: full sun to shade
Availability in nurseries: common
Native range: Colorado blue columbine, MT to NM, ID, UT, and SD (WY native); Golden columbine, AZ to TX, UT, and CO
Plant family: Ranunculaceae