How to Grow Corydalis Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Fumitory, Fumewort, Yan Hu So, and Scrambled Eggs

Members of the Corydalis genus are low growing (15 to 60 cm) hardy annuals, bulbs or perennials that have leaves that look like those of ferns.

Depending upon the variety of Corydalis they may bloom at anytime form the early spring until the autumn, carrying tubular flowers of yellow or blue.

Some common names for Corydalis include Fumitory and Fumewort.

Corydalis scouleri
Corydalis scouleri - Scouler's Corydalis by fly; Creative commons.

Corydalis ambigua
Corydalis ambigua by Arudhio.

Corydalis Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Fumewort, Yan Hu So, Fumitory, Scrambled Eggs, Golden Smoke, Rock Harlequin. Corydalis: Gold; Yellow; Blue; Ferny; Climbing.
Family: Papaveraceae.
Life Cycle: Hardy annual. Hardy Biennial. Hardy bulb. Hardy perennial.
Height: 4 to 36 inches (10 to 90 cm).
Native: Northern hemisphere temperate regions especially China; and Eastern Africa.

Growing Region: Zones 1 to 9.
Flowers: Early spring, summer and autumn.
Flower Details: Yellow, gold, blue, purple, red, pink, white. Tubular. Clustered, often in racemes.
Foliage: Many shades of green, grey-green. Fern-like.

Sow Outside: Seeds: Surface. Tuber: 3 inches (8cm). Annuals: spring or autumn. biennials and Perennials: Summer or Autumn. Spacing 4 to 16 inches (10 to 40 cm) depending upon species size.
Sow Inside: Much easier to grow from tubers. For seeds the germination time is one month to one year. Stratify in the fridge for two or three weeks, then sow seeds on the surface and keep at 60°F (10°C) in the light until they germinate. Once you get seedlings sow them out in autumn or following the last frost.

Requirements: Partial shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 5.5 to 8. Rich soil. Humus rich. Moist soil. Supply leaf mold. Regular watering. Some species are drought tolerant. Propagate by division of tubers, rhizomes and bulbs once flowering has finished.

How to grow Fumitory and other Corydalis species

It is quite difficult to grow Fumitory from seeds so you may prefer to grow from a plant from the garden centre.

If you prefer to grow your own fumitory then the seed should first be kept at a temperature of 17°C for 8 weeks, then chilled in the fridge for 2 weeks.

The seed should then be sown onto the soil surface when the temperature is at around 18°C.

Alternatively you can plant Corydalis (fumitory) bulbs at a depth of 7 cm at the beginning of the summer. Seeds or bulbs should be planted into a lightly shaded area of the garden with good drainage.

Ideally the soil that Corydalis grows in should be rich and of a pH 6 to 8.

Caring for Corydalis

It is important to cut back the plants after flowering as they are able to self seeds.

As they are difficult to grow from seed then you may wish to divide Corydalis perennials once flowering has finished.

Common Questions

How many members does the Corydalis genus have?

The Corydalis genus includes approximately 470 species, most of them known for their delicate, fern-like foliage and tubular flowers.

Do members of Corydalis make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Corydalis makes a lovely addition to woodland gardens, borders, and rock gardens. They add a touch of delicacy with their intricate foliage and blooms.

Which Corydalis species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most frequently grown species is Corydalis solida (Fumewort), loved for its early spring, colorful blooms.

Are members of the Corydalis plant genus fragrant?

Some species of Corydalis, such as Corydalis solida, produce a faint, sweet fragrance, particularly noticeable in warm, sunny conditions.

What is the perfect location to grow Corydalis?

Corydalis prefer shady to semi-shady locations with well-drained, fertile soil. They are perfect for woodland or shade gardens.

Is Corydalis invasive in the USA?

Currently, Corydalis is not considered invasive in the USA. However, some species can self-seed under favorable conditions.

How do I remove Corydalis plants from my garden?

Removal of Corydalis involves hand-pulling the plant, making sure to remove the entire root system. Limiting self-seeding can also control its spread.


The Corydalis genus, part of the Papaveraceae family, originates from various regions across the Northern Hemisphere. These perennial plants, often grown in woodland gardens, are admired for their delicate, fern-like foliage and tubular flowers that bloom from late spring to early summer.

Corydalis prefer a shaded to partially shaded location with fertile, well-drained soil. They can be grown from seeds or tubers. Regular watering is necessary, especially during dry periods. However, these plants often go dormant in summer, so don't be alarmed if they seemingly disappear; they'll return in cooler weather.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Corydalis plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow California poppy and Glaucium plants.