Connecticut Garden Journal: Corydalis
With the recent spate of warm weather, everything seems to be popping out of the ground. I'm excited about my snow drops, crocus and early tulips, but I also love some of the wild, native bulbs that will be blooming soon. One that really captures my attention is corydalis.
Corydalis is also known as “crested lark” because of the bird-like shape of the flowers. It's a low growing evergreen, hardy throughout Connecticut and a great shade flower for spring.
Corydalis is in the poppy family and related to bleeding hearts. In fact, the foliage reminds me of the fern-leaf bleeding heart. The leaves emerge early in spring followed by small, attractive flowers in colors ranging from yellow to blue. I see it thriving under deciduous trees in our area. Once established, corydalis will spread, but is not considered invasive.
Plant corydalis in a part to full shade location on well-drained, moist soil. Soil that's too wet will rot the tubers. Too much afternoon sun will burn the foliage. The wild species of corydalis will flower just in spring, but the attractive foliage should remain into summer.
While the pink colored Corydalis is common in many areas and easiest to grow, other species will flower all summer. Corydalis lutea with yellow flowers and Corydalis elata with blue flowers, make great container and rock garden plants in the shade.
When planting in the garden, keep an eye on your corydalis. It will spread by tubers and seeds, with new plants popping up in walkway cracks and other well-drained areas. Simply relocate errant plants under shrubs, trees and in shade gardens.