I just moved to a new house and I have noticed a nice patch of columbines. I love columbines so I would love to have them back next spring. I live in Toronto (Zone 5-6).

I was wondering what should I do with them before winter. Should I cut them down to the ground or should I leave the foliage as it is? I know they strive in the wild so probably they don't need to be protected like roses. Are they perennials or do they just reseed? If they just reseed then I rather cut them right to the ground because they have leaf miners.

  • 1
    AFAIK they are annuals that reseed. In any case I've never given them any special care other than knowing what they look like so I don't weed them out, and they keep coming back.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 23, 2014 at 16:24
  • @Ecnerwal No, columbines are perennial, although often short-lived. In good conditions, the plants will return for several years.
    – J. Musser
    Oct 23, 2014 at 17:54

1 Answer 1


No need to do anything special with them in your zone. I prefer to leave mine stand through the winter, and then cut them back in the spring just as everything is starting to green up.

As for the leaf miner damage you are seeing, how much damage is there? My columbine almost all show some leaf miner activity, but never enough to bother them. And by this point in the season, most likely the damage you are seeing is from miners that are long gone. Unless you have an unusual problem, I'd be inclined not to worry about it and leave the plants stand over winter. Standing perennials do tend to collect and hold snow a bit better, and this will protect the roots.

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