Garden

Bleeding Heart Plant

bleeding heart plant pictures

Bleeding Heart Plant

Bleeding Heart Plant:These easy-care, shade-loving perennials pop up in early spring and grow quickly. Their characteristic heart-shaped flowers bloom in shades of pink, red or white and hang delicately from arching stems from late spring to early summer.

Common bleeding heart plants (Lamprocapnos spectabilis, formerly Dicentra spectabilis) die back after flowering, but don’t worry — they’ll return again the following spring. Dicentra eximia varieties, also called fringed bleeding hearts, bloom for a longer time and don’t go dormant. Learn more about growing and caring for both of these types of bleeding hearts and others.

 bleeding heart plant pictures
bleeding heart plant pictures

Bleeding Heart Plant Care

Blooms of the bleeding heart plant (Dicentra spectabilis) appear in early spring adorning the garden with attention getting, heart shaped flowers borne on arching stems. Attractive bluish green foliage emerges first as the plant wakes from dormancy and flowers of the bleeding heart may be pink and white or solid white as with the bleeding heart cultivar ‘Alba’.

Pruning:

Lamprocapnos spectabilis varieties will die back in the heat of summer, but they’ll be back next spring. Once the foliage has turned yellow and wilted, the plant can be cut back to the ground. It’s important to wait, because up until that time the leaves are busy collecting and storing food and energy for next year. Flower stalks can be deadheaded after blooming to keep your plant looking clean.

Soil:

Bleeding heart plants require moist, fertile, humus-rich soil that is neutral or slightly alkaline.

Amendments & Fertilizer:

Add a time-release fertilizer in the surrounding soil when new growth appears in spring. Additional compost can be added in as well.

Watering:

From spring until winter, water regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Bleeding hearts won’t tolerate wet soil over winter or dry soil in summer.

 white bleeding heart plant
white bleeding heart plant

Propagation:

Bleeding heart plants can form large clumps of roots and should be divided about every two to three years. This can be done in the spring just as they begin to grow again or in the early fall when the foliage is cut back. Dig them up carefully and divide with a sharp shovel or garden knife. Replant sections around your own garden or share with friends.

If you want to harvest the bleeding heart seeds, the seed heads must be left on the plant to dry. They are ready when the seed heads turn brown and the seeds inside are black. The seeds can be planted immediately and will germinate in spring. They can also be saved to be planted the following spring. Place them in a bag with some moist soil and freeze for 6 weeks so they get the chilling period they need, then store in a cool location until spring planting.

Diseases and Pests:

There are no serious disease or pest problems, although they can be susceptible to aphids. Protect new growth from snails and slugs. Diseases such as downy mildew, Verticillium wilt, rust and fungal leaf spot may occur as well. Bleeding hearts are sensitive to soap-based products, so it’s best to test any pest control products on a few leaves first.

Bleeding Heart Plant Facts

Care for bleeding heart
Care for bleeding heart

Care for bleeding heart includes keeping the soil consistently moist by regular watering. The bleeding heart plant likes to be planted in organic soil in a shady or part shade area. Work compost into the area before planting the bleeding heart plant in fall or spring. Organic mulch breaks down over time to supply nutrients and helps retain moisture. Growing bleeding hearts need a cool, shady area for optimum bloom in warmer southern zones, but farther north this specimen may bloom in a full sun location.

An herbaceous perennial, the bleeding heart plant dies back to the ground as the heat of summer arrives. As the bleeding heart plant begins to yellow and wither away, foliage may be cut back to the ground as a part of care for bleeding heart. Do not remove the foliage before it turns yellow or brown; this is the time when your bleeding heart plant is storing food reserves for next year’s growing bleeding hearts. Bleeding heart flower care includes regular fertilization of the growing bleeding heart. When foliage emerges in spring, time release plant food may be worked into the soil around the plant, as may additional compost. This is an important step in growing bleeding heart, as it encourages more and longer lasting blooms. Many are surprised that growing bleeding hearts is so simple.

Bleeding Heart Plant Images

Bleeding Heart Plant Images
Bleeding Heart Plant Images

Bleeding Heart Plant Varieties

  1. Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2-3″ to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Bleeding hearts prefer soil with average moisture and will not do well in water logged sites.
  2. Site your bleeding hearts where they will receive light to moderate shade. Pink bleeding hearts can manage full sun in consistently moist – not wet – humus rich soil in northern locations, but need a little shade elsewhere. White flowering bleeding hearts prefer shade everywhere.
  3. Your bleeding hearts will be shipped “bareroot.” This just means that the soil has been washed from the roots, so you won’t risk introducing any soil-borne diseases into your garden, and the plants are lighter and cleaner to ship. Dormant bareroot plants are easy to handle and settle in quickly. Tuck your bleeding heart plants into the ground with the roots pointing downwards and the “eyes” or growing points about an inch below soil level. Fan the roots out a little so they can access soil nutrients from a wider area. Space plants about 2-2.5 feet apart to allow room for their mature size.
  4. After planting, water the bleeding hearts well, gently soaking the soil to settle it around the roots. Strong roots will form in the autumn and plants will sprout in the spring. Bleeding hearts flower in spring.
  5. When in bloom, feel free to cut a few stems for arrangements. Mix with ferns and newly unfurled hosta leaves for perfect spring bouquets. Cutting a few stems will not hurt established plants.
  6. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don’t cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1″ of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  7. In mid summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage many be cut and removed at this point. Your bleeding hearts will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle the following spring.
  8. Bleeding heart plants grow larger over time eventually developing into big clumps. These clumps can be divided by slicing them in half vertically with a sharp shovel and the pieces can be replanted or shared with gardening friends. Plants usually reach mature size by the third or fourth year.

Bleeding Heart Plant Poisonous

  1. Select large containers, keeping in mind the mature size of three to four year old bleeding hearts. Fill your containers with well-drained, humus rich potting soil. Add peat moss or perlite to improve drainage, if needed. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes in your pots; bleeding hearts must not sit in waterlogged soil.
  2. Site your plants where they will receive light to moderate shade. Pink bleeding hearts can manage full sun in consistently moist (not wet) humus rich soil in northern locations where the sun is less strong, but need a little shade elsewhere. White bleeding hearts prefer shade everywhere.
  3. Your bleeding hearts will be shipped “bareroot.” This just means that the soil has been washed from the roots, so you won’t risk introducing any soil-borne diseases into your garden, and the plants are lighter and cleaner to ship. Dormant bareroot plants are easy to handle and settle in quickly. Tuck your bleeding heart plants into the ground with the roots pointing downwards and the “eyes” or growing points about an inch below soil level. Fan the roots out a little so they can access soil nutrients from a wider area. Space plants about 12-18″ apart to create a full display.
  4. After planting, water the bleeding hearts well, gently soaking the soil and settling it around the roots. Strong roots will form in the autumn and plants will sprout in the spring. Bleeding hearts flower in spring.
  5. When in bloom, feel free to cut a few stems for arrangements. Mix with ferns, irises and newly unfurled hosta leaves for perfect spring bouquets. Cutting a few stems will not hurt established plants.
  6. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don’t cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1″ of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  7. In mid summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage many be cut and removed at this point. Your bleeding hearts will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle.

Bleeding Heart Plant Size

Zones:

3-9; see specifics on other varieties.

Height/Spread:

Up to 3 feet tall and wide; also compact varieties 1 to 1.5 feet tall & wide.

Exposure:

Partial to full shade, may tolerate sun in cooler northern zones.

Bloom Time:

Common bleeding hearts bloom mid-to-late spring, see specifics on other varieties.

Color:

Varieties bloom in shades of red, pink, white and purple.

Toxicity:

Mild stomach upset can occur if any part of the plant is ingested. Foliage may also aggravate sensitive skin, so care should be taken when handling.

Other:

Bleeding hearts are deer and rabbit resistant.

How To Plant Bleeding Heart

Here are some ideas to help you use bleeding hearts in your garden:

  • Perfect choice for Asian or cottage-style gardens.
  • Brighten up a dark or shady corner.
  • Add spring color under shade trees in woodland gardens.
  • Plant smaller growers like ‘King of Hearts’ in rock gardens.
  • Combine with other shade-loving perennials that will fill in after bleeding hearts die back, such as hostas, astilbe, monkshood, heart-leaf brunnera, coral bells and ferns.
  • Excellent choice for containers — bring them out in spring to enjoy, move to an out-of-the-way location after the plants die back.
  • Use blooming flower stalks in cut-flower arrangements.

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