Corydalis flexuosa ‘Purple Leaf’
Few plants can boast such richly, deeply satisfying, true-blue flowers, as Corydalis flexuosa ‘Purple Leaf’.
They are enchanting, with clusters of brilliant sky blue blooms, that shimmy fetchingly in even the slightest breeze.
Beautiful foliage as well as vivid flowers
But purple-chocolate, lacy fern-like foliage is just as lovely as the flowers.
And together they make Corydalis flexuosa ‘Purple Leaf ‘ a superb contrast plant to offset all the greens.
(Pleased see “Growing” section below for full details)
The flowers also have a sweet scent, which wafts on the warming air. As they bloom on from late winter well into spring.
While they can also re-bloom in autumn as the soil moistens.
Vivid colour in Shade
Corydalis are perfectly adapted to shaded gardens, and natural companions for planting under trees and shrubs.
As this is exactly where they grow in the wild.
So Deep Shade to 1/2 Shade, and the dappled shade under trees and shrubs, are perfect for them.
Corydalis are also ideal for pots, as both the foliage and flowers are pretty enough for such a feature in shaded areas.
And they actually take well to confined pots and troughs, as long as regular water is available, such as a drip system.
Easy low care in the shade
Purple leaf Corydalis is considered a very low maintenance plant, as it requires no pruning or deadheading, and is virtually disease free.
Growing: Corydalis flexuosa ‘Purple Leaf’
– Height with flowers: Blooms to 30cm. approx. while foliage forms a neat cushion beneath.
– Width: Clumps to a diameter of 30-45cm. approx. Can be planted in multiples to form a lovely groundcover in the shade.
– Position: Deep to 1/2 Shade, including Dappled Shade and Woodland positions.
– Soil: Corydalis enjoy humus rich soil, as their natural home is amongst the leaf litter under trees and shrubs in woodland. They therefore prefer soil with a slightly acid pH. So they make perfect companions for Rhododendrons and Camellias.
– Frost: Very frost hardy, withstanding frosts to well below -10C.
– Fragrance: Flowers are sweetly fragrant.
– Beneficial for wildlife: Bees adore the tubular flowers as they know they are rich in pollen and nectar.
– Care: Very easy low care if planted in Shade. No maintenance work is required other than normal garden watering. Corydalis ‘Purple Leaf’ is ignored by virtually all pests and diseases, and is not a favourite of slugs and snails unless you have a very heavy infestation.
– Rabbit & Deer resistant: Rabbits and deer seem not to care for it.
– Growth: Corydalis are evergreen perennials, with the foliage forming a dense cushion. However do not be alarmed if the foliage disappears for a little while during very hot periods. The plant goes dormant as a natural defence against excessive heat, and then re-sprouts when the weather cools. It will often re-bloom again with this new autumn growth.
– Origin: Corydalis are native to woodlands in Sichuan Province, China, where the Pandas roam.
Pandas & a missionary
– A cleric who loved flowers more than his mission: Corydalis were first brought out of the Panda forests of China by intrepid French missionary, Pere Armand David in 1865. But Pere David was reputed to have been more fervent about botany than his missionary duties. Certainly he collected more plants than Christian converts whilst in China. But he did meticulously send all his specimens back to the Natural History Museum in Paris. When the gardening elite of Paris first saw these gorgeous blue flowers, of course they were smitten. But no Corydalis plants were available and so they became a legendary “holy grail” of gardening. Then live plants were re-discovered again in 1989, when wildlife researchers accidentally stumbled across Corydalis while looking for Pandas in the forests of Sichuan. So Corydalis ‘Blue Panda’ was released onto the gardening world during the 1990’s, and unsurprisingly, it was an immediate sensation.