Corydalis are perennial plants belonging to the sub-family Fumariaceae – itself part of the Papaveraceae family – and that have bulbous and fibrous roots. They are grown to beautify borders, flower beds and rock gardens. Fall is the ideal time to plant them and they bloom from April to October.  Corydalis are propagated by division or sowing. This article will present the conditions favourable to their growth and the general rules for the plants’ maintenance.

Corydalis is a genus of wild plants that includes about 500 species. They are mainly found in rural settings such as subalpine and mountain meadows, where they grow in the middle of orchards, hedges and hardwoods. Of the Latin name of Corydalis, this plant belongs to the Papaveraceae family. Reaching a height of 12 inches (30 cm) high and a spread of 24 inches (60 cm), it has evergreen foliage, flowers in clusters and bulbous or fibrous roots.

Growing corydalis under optimum conditions

Corydalis are mostly planted on borders, in pots, on low walls, in rock gardens or in flower beds. However, the preferred growing environment depends on the species being grown. Thus, Corydalis solida, also known as spring fumewort, has lobed leaves of dull blue-green colour, purple or pink flowers, and is best suited to be grown on the borders of flower beds, in the undergrowth or in a rock garden. White corydalis (Corydalis ochroleuca,) with its lobed blue-green leaves and racemes of creamy-white flowers is a shade plant. Blue corydalis (Corydalis elata) has cobalt blue flowers, of which the scent is reminiscent of coconut, and has a preference for shaded areas, undergrowth and rock gardens. Corydalis ‘Blackberry Wine’, which produces lobed apple-green leaves and bears red-purple flowers, is rather planted as ground cover on open ground, but it can also be used for the borders of flower beds or in rock gardens. Generally, fertile and well-drained soil with a high humus and alkaline content provide the ideal conditions for the growth of Corydalis. Most species enjoy a sun exposure ranging from mid-shade to full sun.

The cultivation of Corydalis should begin in fall by sowing seeds n the ground. A corydalis plant that benefits from favourable planting conditions usually bears flowers from the month of April. This bloom may extend to mid-summer, sometimes even lasting until the month of October. Once flowering is complete, corydalis enters its dormant phase during which the vegetative propagation by division of the clump is conducted. Corydalis cannot withstand temperatures that fall below -9.4 ° F (-23 ° C), but begins to lose its aerial parts at -0.4 ° F (18 ° C).

Cultivation and maintenance of corydalis

When sowing Corydalis seeds, consider covering them with a thin layer of soil of which the thickness should be about half an inch (1 cm). In the event that the planting is done by dividing clumps, it is recommended to space out the seedlings by 12-inch (30 cm) intervals. The soil should be prepared prior to inserting the clumps in the ground by adding supplies of fertilizer or other fertilizing products. During the period of vegetative propagation, the new seedlings should be well-watered as they need a good amount of water to grow. Similarly, they must be regularly watered in summer. However, if the soil in which Corydalis are planted is already damp, space out waterings to prevent the roots from rotting.

Once the flowers begin to wilt, think of adding bulb fertilizer to the water used for irrigation. This procedure is to be renewed every 15 to 20 days. Corydalis is a hardy perennial plant. In spite of this, treatment with fungicides is recommended to avoid the enlargement of the buds, as it is conducive to disease. Corydalis are particularly attractive to slugs, snails and spider mites. The use of pest control products allows to keep them at bay. Before the onset of winter, it is recommended to treat Corydalis with fungicide. Once the cold temperatures arrive, the plants must be covered with peat, straw or dead leaves to protect them.

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Published in Summer bulbs by Alexander on 11 Aug 2011