Plant a Fumewort Party!

My most exciting spring bulb doesn’t look much like a “traditional” bulb flower; it looks more like a tiny orchid. It comes in gorgeous colors, is very hardy, spreads reliably and should be much more popular than it is.

Corydalis solida - Fumewort But shhhh…If everyone finds out how wonderful “fumewort” is, they’ll all be looking for it.  Even with that unfortunate common name, Corydalis solida has been the most pleasant find for me. And while the common mauve species is easy to find and spreads like crazy in a partly-shaded spot (mine are under a black walnut tree)…

Corydalis solida on my path


….the colorful cultivars like raspberry-pink C. solida ‘George Baker’ and light-pink ‘Beth Evans’ are more rare.  And they do cost a pretty penny, but if you begin with just a few bulbs they’ll slowly spread. Corydalis solida and its colorful forms are spring ephemerals, meaning they pop up quickly then die back for summer.  They prefer part shade and humus-rich soil, but my ‘George Baker’ is in full sun next right to a winter-salted boulevard and thrives there. Corydalis solida 'George Baker'

Here’s a little tip.  When you’re planting them in autumn, mix them up in a basket with some bright blue glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa forbesii), striped squill (Puschkinia scilloides), Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) and maybe some violet crocuses, or lavender-blue windflowers (Anemone blanda). That’s right, plant a fumewort party! Corydalis companions

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