Companion Plants

last update Jun 2020

A few tuberous/bulbous plants which have increased here nicely over the years and which I'm now prepared to dig and send out in fall when the peonies are dug. The Arisaemas, related to the native Jack-in-the-Pulpit, are not exactly good companions in a peony bed as they may get shaded out by the peony leaves but they're companionable in terms of shipping. The Corydalis solida, on the other hand, is great amongst peonies because it blooms before the peonies break dormancy and the foliage dies off in June before the peonies reach full size, so light competition isn't a problem for them.


Arisaema ciliatum var. liubaense 2057 $20.00

flowergroup of plants (excuse the "weeds")

Common name(s): Asian Cobra Lily (one of several called so). From seed started in about 2005.This has been a most obliging species of Arisaema for me, increasing nicely over time to a fine clump, whether stonloniferously or by self-seeding I can't tell, probably both? Mine have been happy in a thick layer of sand and compost mix over former lawn (heavy clay) and a few feet from the basement wall (on the outside, of course!). Morning sun, dappled mid-day shade, full shade in the evening. They emerge very quickly in late June. The flower (spathe) has a long tail hanging down off the front. Seeds are borne in a spike of berries which turn bright red in fall; they can be heavy enough to flatten to the earth, so their show can be enhanced with a bit of early staking.

Arisaema sikokianum 0491 $40.00


Common name(s): Japanese Cobra Lily. Quietly showy plants for a shady spot, but not too shady. For good drainage in a compost-rich soil. Flowers and leaves appear rather suddenly in late June. Seeds are (with luck, see next para) borne in a spike of green berries which, if winter holds off long enough, ripen to red. The above plants were started from seed obtained from a few sources about 20 years ago.

There is a strain of A. sikikianum which has a fine light pattern on the leaves, but these are unpatterned.

Arisaemas are interesting plants in that: in most species their first few years of flowers are female only, then they tend to try being male for a few years, and then produce flowers of both sexes (all forms have the same aesthetic presentation for the gardener; the actual flowers are tiny things on the interior 'mushroom'-capped spike called a spadix). So it took quite awhile for one of my plants to produce some berries and another while for me to manage to get them to ripen properly (just once...). So I finally have a crop of youngsters on offer. They've been in the ground for 4winters (maybe 5? it's a bit fuzzy in my mind) and although I was hopeful to see a few flowers this spring, they haven't yet. So what I'm selling right now are unflowered tubers. There's no reason to believe there are any hybrids in the bunch, as the parent plant was quite a distance away from any other Arisaemas.

Corydalis solida 1401 $6.00

a group, showing some of the colour variation (but not the yellow or blue in the far back!)

A low, early blooming ephemeral plant native to woods in Siberia, hardy at least to Zone 5. If you've been frustrated (as I have) by the more difficult blue Corydalis, don't give up on the genus until you've tried this species. Here it is fully hardy and vigorous, increasing by offsets and self-seeding happily. Grows well in full sun or part shade. It emerges early in spring, flowers for several weeks, and goes dormant by late June. Although the individual flowers and plants are small, their show is quite vibrant. Colour range of this lot is various mid shades of lilac/mauve/lavender but the species can also range from white through pink to red. The bulbs I'm selling will come out of one or more of the bunches in the photo on the right. Or try some of the red ones below:

Corydalis solida red form 1401C $10.00

flowersplant cluster (about 30cm across)

A particularily vibrant colour; the group on the right is easily visible from over 35m distance despite the small size of the flowers. Bulbs being sold will come from that group, which originated as a seedling from the cultivar "George Baker" in about 2004.

If you start with 1 each of 1401 and 1401C and keep them apart for a few years, then plant a few of the offsets of each together, nature's paintbrush will get started on a mix of colours for you.


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