Monday, April 15, 2013

Corydalis solida

One part of my garden in April with lots of red corydalis solida

Corydalis solida from Janis Ruksans
     One of my favorite plants is corydalis solida, particularly the reddish or pinkish forms.  This corydalis is a little bulb native to parts of Europe and Asia.  It is a spring ephemeral, meaning it comes up early, in late winter for us, and blooms in early spring and then dies down. By summer, it will have disappeared from above the ground.
     The bulbs, if happy, will multiply easily and the best way to increase your stock is to dig them up and separate out the bulbs after the foliage dies down.  By doing this religiously, you can have mass quantities of this wonderful plant in a few years.  These bulbs also self sow and now in my garden I have a number of plants of slightly differing color.  The seedlings, when they first come up, are tiny and so it is important not to weed them out and not to smother them with other plants. There are not so many seedlings that they create a nuisance-- unlike some other corydalis which I have grown.
      I got my first plants of Corydalis solida from Janis Ruksans many years ago.  They were labeled, if I remember correctly, Corydalis solida var. transylvanica.  They looked like the corydalis in the bottom photograph above.  I have since gotten other corydalis from other sources, including 'George Baker' which has more red flowers and more cut leaves than the transylvanica strain, 'Beth Evans' which has more pinkish flowers, and a number of others whose names I haven't kept track of.  The best source for unusual corydalis and for named cultivars of Corydalis solida in the U.S.  is Odyssey Bulbs and I have ordered many of them from them over the years.  Of course the king of corydalis is Janis Rukans, and his book Buried Treasures contains mouth watering pictures of fields of corydalis solida growing in his nursery in Latvia. it also contains some great closeup photos of various forms of this corydalis.  When I first got these bulbs they were not very available here, but now some of the larger bulb growers also carry them.
    As I have mentioned on more than one occasion, I like hummingbirds and these plants are much loved by them.
     I have found that these are relatively forgiving and good garden plants.  I now grow them almost everywhere in my garden.  The only place where I don't think they would be happy is in waterlogged conditions. They do well in dry shade, in moist shade and in full sun. The bulbs seem to be fatter and bigger when I have grown them in good humus enriched soil, though.   Occasionally the garden critters seem to have gotten to them, but if you keep dividing them, hopefully, you should be able to have enough stock to withstand that sort of predation.  Probably the most danger to them is from the gardener him or herself who might forget where they are planted and plant something else right on top of them!
     I like to plant these around other large plants in places where there is not much going on in the early spring but where there might be more foliage later in the year.  They are very good around hellebores, trilliums, cyprepridiums, arisaemas, and meconopsis.  They make good companions to hacquetias and hepaticas.


  1. Hi Linda,

    I love your posts, and LOVE this front page. Which eremurus is this? It is really perfect w/the allium and poppies. Thanks.

  2. That first photo is nothing short of splendid Linda..I would be out my door looking at it all day long ..

  3. I'm checking Odyssey's list right now for summer-dry corydalis. So good to read you again!

  4. WOW!! Awesome garden you have there..