Celandine Poppy Is No Shrinking Violet

There’s a lot of Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) in our garden and they’re blooming right now. Some people will warn you that this plant is too aggressive. On the other hand, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center calls it “… a fine species to grow in Eastern wildflower gardens, far less aggressive than the introduced European species.”

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There’s a lot of nice things I can say about Celandine Poppy. I love its bright yellow color and the deeply lobed leaves. Native to woodlands from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin as well as the Upper South, it’s a tough plant that tolerates shade and requires no coddling.

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It does seed itself around with great enthusiasm. I have two really big patches of Celandine Poppy. There’s a lot of it in the East Bed, which you can see above. But we’ve got it growing in shadier spots all over the garden.

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A couple of years ago it was all over the Driveway Border. I got nervous and dug a lot of it out, but I wish now that I hadn’t. Celandine Poppy grows to only about 18″ and dies back somewhat in the heat of summer, at least in our garden (it will revive in September). It’s really no threat to taller plants that bloom later in the season.

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Other assertive spring wildflowers like Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) can also handle themselves just fine around Celandine Poppy. However, it can overwhelm more delicate or diminutive plants, especially spring ephemerals like Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). When Celandine Poppy encroaches on such plants, it should be firmly removed.

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Here’s another big patch on the west side of the back porch.

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So in my view, we should not fear the Celandine Poppy. Just don’t plant it in a formal garden. Instead, match it with equally tough wildflowers, and it will bring abundant cheer to your spring garden.

Have you grown Celandine Poppy in your garden?

42 Comments on “Celandine Poppy Is No Shrinking Violet

  1. I like the flowers of the Celandine Poppy, it looks like a good spring plant when you need colour. We had lots of wild geraniums in the front garden, and unfortunately they smothered some new plants while we weren’t looking (and they died). So now I am more careful with plants I’m using as ”ground covers”

  2. It is a beauty, I got a plant a few years ago and it is slowly seeding around, I will watch that it doesn’t muscle out my bloodroot, thanks.

  3. I love the celandine poppies, they are so cheerful and look especially good with the wild geranium. Both are on the “wild”and enthusiastic side, like my new puppy!

  4. I have never grown this charming, cheerful spring bloomer before, Jason. Looks as if I’ve been missing out and I’ll have to search for some. It looks wonderful in your beds!

  5. No, I haven’t tried growing Celandine Poppy yet. It’s very pretty. I found your blog through Donna’s interview and glad I did as you have a lovely garden. I’ll be in Chicago for the GWA conference in August — are you going by chance?

  6. I had a wood poppy years ago. It would totally die back during summer. One year it died back and never returned. I would like to give this celedine poppy a try.

  7. I haven’t grown this poppy. I’ve grown other poppies like opium and Californian. I love vigorous wildflowers that are annuals and self seed. I always think it’s easier to pull things out rather than coax reluctant growers.

  8. I have never grown this Jason but it does look lovely all over the place in spring before the other plants start growing. I got that fear of a plant spreading with my Centranthus ruber and pulled just a bit too much out a couple of years ago but it has recovered already!

  9. You know, I have never seen one, and I doubt that I would be impressed by it since it is not at all comparable to our native California poppy, but I know several people from the East who think it is really cool. It makes me wonder what the allure is. I do not think that all of it is within the native range, but might have been planted. I heard of it from east of Pittsburgh, Ohio, but also Oklahoma. What grew in Oklahoma might have been something else. I do not know why it was grown there, but I think it was an old herbal plant.

      • Oh, they certainly are, although none of the newer colors are as excellent as the original orange. Yet, they are not one of the ‘traditional’ flowers. There are so many flowers that are common in the East and Midwest that I would like to try just because I hear so much about them, even though some are not that excellent. It sweet flag (iris) are something we lack. Our iris are relatively bland, although I really dig them. (I grew up with the San Francisco iris in the region.) Also, the native sunflowers from the Midwest are something I REALLY want to try, but have not yet.

  10. I have to confess, no. I never heard of it. But it does look like an interesting plant. I guess it needs a sunny place.

  11. I haven’t grown it, but it certainly is lovely. I’m always hesitant when a plant is considered “aggressive”, especially those that spread via rhizomes – is that the case with this one or is it a seed spreader?

  12. Hello Jason, I haven’t grown this and I haven’t seen it in the Garden Centres either – perhaps they’ve been pushed out commercially by our European counterparts? The plant reminds me of a mini-Hypericum.

  13. I just love it and grow it from seed most years, you would think it would be happy with our sandy soil, but no, it doesn’t like it here! Maybe too chilly for it….xxx

  14. Now how cheerful can a flower hope to be ? .. I don’t have this one but it is a keeper for sure.
    Little hits of happy yellow in the garden just make you smile don’t they ? .. I have some soft yellows and of course some special goldenrod for the Fall (which is a long way off yet,phew!)
    I agree with Sunil that it looks like a mini Hypericum .. I have had one of those before .. sometimes the oldies are truly goodies .. now there are so many different cultivars it can be overwhelming .. I think gardeners go through stages where new cultivars fascinate us .. but eventually we fall back to the back bone plants .. which is a good thing !

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