An essential plant for the shady garden, Corydalis offers sprays of cheerful flowers and delicate, beautiful foliage early in the season.

Finding plants that will bloom well in shady conditions can be a bit challenging, but Corydalis will brighten up even a deep shade spot with very little trouble. The lacy, ferny foliage appears in late winter, and clusters of small, tubular, often fragrant flowers cover the plant from early spring into early summer, and sometimes even longer. A great filler or mass-planted ground cover, Corydalis blends beautifully with other early shade-lovers like bleeding hearts, Narcissus, violets, or primroses.

Easy of and reliable bloom are not the only merits of this sweet little plant. Just look at the colors! In addition to lavender and purple, you’ll find cheery bright yellow, pink, white and absolutely true blue. What Corydalis wants is a rich, well-drained soil in a cool spot. It’s primarily a woodland plant, so imagine the fluffy loam of a forest floor. Add plenty of compost to amend the soil, and give it a bit of organic flower food in late winter to keep the blooms coming.

Consistent watering is important, but soil should not retain too much water, or the roots could rot.  This is especially important when the plant is dormant in winter or late summer. Corydalis tends to die back to the ground and go dormant when summer temperatures start to get hot, but if it is placed in a cool microclimate with regular water, you may be able to keep it going well into the summer or even into autumn.

Some varieties you can find at Portland Nursery include:

Corydalis 'Blue Heron'

Corydalis ‘Blue Heron'

8-10” tall and 10-12" wide with bright blue flowers March to May.

Lovely blue grey foliage and bronze new growth.

Zones 6-8

Corydalis 'Purple Leaf'

Corydalis ‘Purple Leaf’

8-10” with bronze-tipped purplish foliage and blue flowers.

Corydalis lutea

Corydalis lutea: Yellow corydalis

8-14” tall and wide with sprays of bright yellow flowers.

Tolerates drier soils and more sun than other Corydalis.

Reseeds prolifically.

Zones 5-8.

Photo Credit: Bouba

Corydalis 'Chocolate Stars'

Corydalis quantmeyeriana ‘Chocolate Stars’

12-16” tall and wide.

Unusual reddish-brown, bronzy foliage that fades to green.

Light lavender flowers April to June.

Hardy to zone 5.

Corydalis ‘Berry Exciting’

Corydalis ‘Berry Exciting’

Wow chartreuse foliage topped by fragrant purple flowers April to June.

Grows 10-13” tall and up to 2’wide. 

Zones 5-8.

Corydalis ‘Blackberry Wine’

Corydalis ‘Blackberry Wine’

Fragrant pinkish-purple flowers April to June.

Grows 8-12" tall and sprawls 12-18" wide.

Zones 5-8.

Corydalis 'Canary Feathers'

Corydalis ‘Canary Feathers’

Spikes of yellow flowers May to September.

Grows 12" tall and wide.

Zones 6-9.

Find the Best Perennials for your Garden

We have a wonderful selection of perennials year round, but if you are looking for a specific perennial we will have the best selection when it is in bloom around town. Note: Native plant pages will take you into the Native Plant section.


Lewisia: Bitterroot