I Love Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart

Apr 27, 2018 | Love This!

Imagine: “I need plants that will make me smile,” my friend said.
“No problem,” I replied. “Let’s start with bleeding heart.”

Name: Lamprocapnos spectabilis aka Dicentra spectabilis aka bleeding heart or old-fashioned bleeding heart.

Type of Plant: This is a very hardy perennial, that will not only return year after year when it’s happy, but can also gently self-seed around the garden. This plant will grow in sun to part-shade, but do best in gardens that don’t go completely dry.

Why I love this plant: There aren’t many plants that have flowers that look like fine jewelry, but this is one. It’s easy to love because it flowers early in the spring when we most need blossoms. The flowers are kind of heart or locket shaped, and they dangle from the stem like charms on a necklace.

A Word to the Wise: This plant likes amended but well-drained soils. I’ve found that an application of composted manure around the plants results in stronger growth. Secondly, this plant doesn’t like heat and will go dormant in mid-summer when it’s planted in a sunny location or if it’s grown in a hot climate. This isn’t a problem; when the foliage of the bleeding heart starts to turn yellow, cut it to the ground and plant annuals on the sides and to the front of the plant. The annuals will carry the garden into the fall while the bleeding heart takes a break.

They grow bushy early in the spring, but can yellow and go dormant once it gets hot. A great combination with Virginia bluebells because they also disappear in the summer…so a perfect place for summer annuals, especially things like Nicotiana mutibilis that will self-seed in the area and grow when it’s warmer.

Like charms on a necklace, the flowers dangle from a long, thin stem. How can you look at this plant and not smile?

Place bleeding heart in with other spring flowering perennials and bulbs, but also where later perennials will grow in front or behind these plants.

GardenLine Listeners! This morning you heard about Donna Balzer’s book, Gardener’s Gratitude Journal. Find it here.


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