A year and a half ago I was introduced to this beautiful blue flower, ‘Porcelain Blue’ Corydalis, at an industry trade show. I was drawn to it the minute I saw it as the vibrant aqua blue flowers were eye-catching. The plant was a real standout and the main attraction for many people. I was going through some pictures recently and was mesmerized again and figured it was time to learn more about it.
This perennial has groups of tube-shaped blossoms with fernlike foliage and does exceptionally well in a partial shade garden. Corydalis is from the Greek word Korydalis meaning “Crested Lark” in reference to the resemblance of the plant’s floral spurs to the spurs of some larks. Besides blue, the 4-petaled flowers come in a variety of colors including pink, purple, white and yellow. The flower blooms from spring through early summer (April – June). There are some varieties that will bloom in the fall. They are hardy for zones 5 – 8 (again this will vary slightly depending on the variety).
Corydalis plants are easily grown in well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. The optimal soil would be a humus-rich, consistently moist soil but remember the drainage must be good. If the plant sits in water, it will rot. Wet soil in winter would be fatal to the plant. This plant does not do well in the Deep South as it is intolerant of hot and humid summers. Too much shade may result in lanky plants with sparse flowers.
It is much easy to buy this plant from a garden center or nursery than trying to grow it from seed. Plant it in the fall or early spring and as we previously mentioned make sure the soil is well-drained. Corydalis is a prolific self-seeding plant almost to the point that some people view it as a weed. It is easy to remove young seedlings and even transplant them to other areas. If this is a problem for you, consider growing it in a container or hanging basket. It will look great cascading over the sides of the planter.
This plant is fairly low-maintenance. The main tasks in taking care of the plant are watering and removing the spent flowers. In the midsummer, the plants can be cut back to stimulate more flower growth. You can divide the plant every two to three years in the spring. Just know as the plant ages, it does not like being messed with. To keep the roots cool and to conserve moisture, you might want to consider putting a layer of mulch around the plant. Corydalis is also deer-resistant. The plant also looks great mixed with hostas and hydrangeas.
If you are interested in growing this plant make sure you research the different varieties and there as there are some that are more sun-loving then others.
Porcelain Blue Corydalis Photo Courtesy of PlantHaven International.