Taller types may grow to two to three feet, and flowers are often two or three times the size of the smaller types. These plants need space. Mature specimens may spread their leaves over an area up to two feet wide, though some of this foliage can be cut back without harming the plants. They show up well from the back of a mixed border or the center of an island bed.
The spreading leaves of tall columbines are an asset in some situations; I have some tiny spring-blooming bulbs planted around a large granny's bonnet and its attractive foliage (blue-green with a silver reverse, and divided like oversized maidenhair fern foliage) helps to hide yellowing scilla leaves.
Aquilegia 'Snow Queen' is well known for its striking , pure white spurred flowers.
Aquilegia vulgaris 'Adelaide Addison' displays bi-color white and blue flowers in the early summer.
Aquilegia vulgaris 'Nora Barlow' has attractive double spurless flowers in red, pink and pale green.
One of the most common pest on columbine is leaf miner. These fly larvae feed inside the leaf. You'll see their damage as light-colored, winding tunnels on the leaf surfaces. Cut off and destroy all infested foliage after plants have bloomed; the new leaves that regrow later in the season will be miner-free.
All the above varieties tend to self-sow, A. vulgaris freely and the dwarf cultivars somewhat less so. Hybrid seedlings may differ in appearance from their parents, and some may revert to wild types; seedlings can easily be removed where they are not wanted. The hybrids are usually longer-lived than the species, but this tendency to self-sow, which allows the species types to perpetuate themselves, somewhat offsets this characteristic.
Good drainage is key to getting as many years out of a planting as possible. Roots prefer to remain undisturbed so plant where you want them to grow. In general, either shallow soils or containers don't work well because each plant needs room for a long taproot.
You can prolong the bloom season by pinching off faded flowers, but you can also let the flowers develop the characteristic pronged seedheads, which are attractive in their own right and add interest to the garden in winter. Hardy plants, columbines need no special autumn care or winter protection, though it is advisable to clean up the foliage after it yellows to discourage the overwintering of slugs and insects. Simplest is to cut off all foliage in fall; healthy new leaves soon appear. Dr. Steve George, Texas A&M University Extension horticulturist in Dallas, recommends that southern gardeners remove all foliage late July to early August if plants are plagued by pests. They'll regrow vigorously with the cooler temperatures in fall.