Companion Plants in Yellow and Blue

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are a widely loved wildflower.

A mass of Celandine Poppies provide a backdrop for Virginia Bluebells.
A mass of Celandine Poppies provide a backdrop for Virginia Bluebells.

One of its best companions, however, is not so widely loved. I speak of Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), which is peaking in my garden along with the Bluebells even as I write this.

Celandine Poppies
Celandine Poppies

These plants perfect for each other. There are the simultaneously blooming flowers – blue for the Mertensia, golden yellow for the Stylophorum. I always like to mix blue and yellow blooms.

Virginia Bluebells
Virginia Bluebells

Then there is the contrast of foliage shape: lobed and oak-like for Celandine Poppies and rounded leaves for the Bluebells, though the leaves of each have a similar bluish green hue. Also, these two plants prefer the same woodsy, part shade conditions.

Celandine Poppies with Great Forget-Me-Not
Celandine Poppies with Great Forget-Me-Not

Some people consider Celandine Poppies to be weedy, and they do tend to seed themselves about with more enthusiasm than is strictly necessary. However the seedlings are not difficult to remove – and a mass of blooming Celandine Poppies are an energizing sight.

A little off topic, but here's our new fountain surrounded by Virginia Bluebells. Nice, don't you think?
A little off topic, but here’s our new fountain surrounded by Virginia Bluebells. Nice, don’t you think?

Celandine Poppies are not ephemerals like Virginia Bluebells. Their foliage does get ratty during a hot summer, but fresh leaves (and sometimes flowers) will sprout when the weather cools.

Another look at the fountain and the Virginia Bluebells.
Another look at the fountain and the Virginia Bluebells.

Celandine Poppies are probably not a good fit for a formal garden, but they can add a great deal of pleasure to an an informal cottage or wildflower garden. The same is true, I think, of Virginia Bluebells.

Virginia Bluebells and Celandine Poppies, another look.
Virginia Bluebells and Celandine Poppies, another look.

Do you grow Celandine Poppies in your garden?

53 Comments on “Companion Plants in Yellow and Blue”

  1. Both my Virginia Bluebells and Celandine Poppies have diminished on the north side of my garage–Virginia Waterleaf may be pushing them out. My bluebells, however are thriving and increasing on the other side of the back yard where it’s sunnier, but the Celandine Poppy refused to grow there. I agree it’s a beautiful combination.

  2. I should send you a picture of my bountiful celandine poppies in full bloom a month ago and there are still some in flower. I love them, and the mertensia. At present they are on opposite sides of the garden but having seen your pics, must arrange a meeting!

  3. Good reminder to add Celadine poppies to my current garden. I’ve had them in a previous space, but they didn’t do as well as I hoped. I think I have better conditions for them here, though. They certainly make a nice show in your garden, especially with the Virginai bluebells.

  4. Believe it or not, I tried celandine poppies in my first garden… and they disappeared within two years! (Yet I was able to nurse Eucalyptus perriniana through three winters in a zone where it’s not supposed to survive; go figure) I’m beginning to think I may be cursed as far as “spring yellows” are concerned, because not only is Eranthis hyemalis a challenge for me, but another supposedly rampant spreader (goldenstar, Chrysogonum virginianum) didn’t seem to want to spread very much in garden #4.

  5. I don’ t have much success with Mertensia and Stylophrum is far too invasive here. My take on the blue and yellow theme is the Welsh poppy, Meconopsis cambrica with Brunnera or bluebells, Hyacinthoides. The Welsh poppy is quite invasive but so pretty. Sometimes the flowers are orange but more usually yellow.

  6. The Celandine poppies are not a plant I see growing here but as per Chloris above the welsh poppy is and they seed far too much for my liking, so would not put them in the garden.
    Your yellow and blue combo is nice – I had yellow and blue earlier with daffs and lungwort. I’ve just bought myself a rather lovely blue Anemone trullifolia, I should think about pairing it with some yellow.

  7. The blue and yellow together are perfect! My favourite colour combo too, as well as orange/blue. I have a lot of borage and Chelidonium majus. Unlike your celandine poppies the last is quite hard to weed out. I always worry I’ll lose things like the borage because I tend to weed too much. Didn’t know that mertensia was an ephemeral.

  8. Very pretty! I have both the celandine poppy and the mertensia growing in my shady mini-woodland area, too, along with sweet woodruff, some phlox divaricata, trillium, etc… is a magical area right now! Along with some invading lily of the valley, some random woods geraniums, lunaria, May apples, Jacob’s ladder, hesperis, “false” forget-me-nots, and ferns – it’s quite the show.
    And there’s more! I have to fight to keep them all under control, and by mid-summer it’s kind of boring, but for now it’s a great pleasure.
    My bluebells are under (over?) planted with some huge hostas, which are just now poking up through them and starting to open their leaves. This works very, very well to cover the declining foliage – it was sort of accidental to begin with, but works out quite nicely, so I would recommend it.

    • That is quite the show! I grow some of the plants you mention, but not all.Also, it is true that it’s more of a challenge to keep shade gardens interesting into the summer, though this is where I rely on annuals like Caladiums and Impatiens.

      • Good idea – I should try this. I don’t think I’ve ever tried Caladiums. In the sunnier more open area I have a hydrangea and some tiger lilies, and have failed repeatedly through the years to get good areas of nicotiana, which always seems like it should work, but never does. I want the huge fragrant ones!
        I did read up more on celandine poppies after reading your (terrific!) blog and supposedly if we deadhead them we can keep them blooming throughout the summer – news to me. I will try that this summer, too. They do say the sap is nasty, though…..

  9. I had one once but it went dormant and decided to die instead of coming back. I love blue and yellow together. Maybe it’s my Swedish heritage coming out. Bluebells grow wild here. We have fields of them along the rivers. :o) I think your poppies and bluebells look great together! :o)

  10. Blue and yellow is a classic combination. I used to have spires of blue delphiniums as a backdrop to a bright yellow rose. I now have a yellow rose with a blue clematis growing through it – it’s very young and hopefully wont die but my track record with these things isn’t great. The garden has a lot of blue forget-me-nots that self-seed all over the place so I have a ready-made blue foil to work with.

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