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DICENTRA—Bleeding Heart, Dutchman's-Breeches, Squirrel Corn (Dicen'tra)

Dicentra is from dis, twice, and kentron, a spur, referring to the spurred flowers. It is sometimes called Dielytra. The common garden Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis, is a beautiful spring-flowering plant which grows wild in Japan and China and belongs to the family Fumariaceae; it has thick roots, pinnate light-green leaves, and bears dainty heart-shaped, drooping, pink and white flowers on arching stems in May. It is suitable for planting in a lightly shaded border and thrives in ordinary, well-cultivated, garden soil; clayey ground can be made suitable by digging in organic matter and grit or sand. It reaches a height of 2024 in. This plant may be potted in autumn and grown in a cool greenhouse for flowering in early spring. In addition to the pink-flowering kind a very fine pure white-flowered variety has been introduced in recent years. The foliage of D. spectabilis dies down and the plant is dormant for a period at about midsummer.

Another kind, the western American D. for‑ mosa, 8-9 in. high, bears deep-pink flowers in May; it is more suitable for the rock garden than the flower border. It flourishes in ordinary well-drained soil and prefers a slightly shaded place.

Similar to D. formosa is the attractive eastern North American D. eximia; it blooms freely from spring through fall and thrives under the conditions recommended for D. formosa. An interesting species for the rock garden is the western American D. oregana, which has bluish foliage and cream-colored flowers. D. chrysantha (Golden Eardrops) is a native of California which grows 2-4 ft. high and has yellow flowers.

D. canadensis (Squirrel Corn) and D. Cucullaria (Dutchman's-Breeches) are two eastern North American natives that are suitable for rich, reasonably moist soils in woodland gardens and shaded rock gardens. Both are spring bloomers, a foot or less tall and have tiny tubers which in spring develop foliage and flowers; the foliage dies down after the blooming season and does not reappear until the following spring.

Propagation. Dicentras can be propagated by seeds sown in a cold frame or protected place outdoors in early summer or fall, by dividing the clumps of roots or clusters of tubers as soon as the foliage has turned yellow after flowering and by root cuttings made from thick roots in fall.

 

DIEFFENBACHIA—Dumb Cane (D ieffenbach'ia). Tropical plants with ornamental foliage, suitable for growing in conservatories and valuable as pot plants for decorating homes, offices, stores, etc. They withstand difficult conditions well. They have subshrubby, round stems and grow about 4 ft. in height. The large ovate or oblong leaves are usually spotted or lined with cream or white, and the leafstalks sheath at their bases and encircle the stems. They are natives of tropical America and the West Indies. Dieffenbachia is named in honor of J. F. Dieffenbach, a German botanist. It belongs to the Arum family, Araceae.

Summer and Winter Management. These plants require a rich compost of equal parts of peat and loam and one part of well-decayed manure and coarse sand. The winter temperature must not fall below 55 degrees. Repotting is carried on in February for the older plants, young plants being repotted during the summer as soon as they become well rooted. When older plants become "leggy" and the leaves lose color, the stems are severed just below the bottom leaves and inserted as cuttings in a propagating case, where roots will form or they may be air-layered to produce new plants. They require a shady position and an abundance of water in summer. From October to February drier conditions are maintained. When grown as house plants the leaves should be sponged occasionally with soapy water to remove grime. Well-rooted specimens benefit from weekly applications of dilute liquid fertilizer.

Propagation. In addition to rooting the tops as explained above, the stem may be cut up into pieces 2 in. in length and inserted in pans of sand. If these are placed in a propagating case in spring or summer they will soon produce roots and new shoots.

The chief kinds in cultivation in the United States are: D. amoena, broad, dark green leaves with some white feathering; D. Bausei, a hybrid kind, leaves yellowish-green with green margins and white spots; D. Chelsonii, deep, satiny green leaves with gray feathering; D. Fournieri, black-green with white spots; D. Fosteri, a dwarf kind, green; D. Hoffmannii, velvety green leaves, blotched cream-white and with white midribs; D. imperialis, leaves shining green with light yellow blotches; D. Leonii, velvety yellow leaves that are green towards the margins; D. longispatha, dark green with light midribs; D. MemoriaCorsii, gray with green veins and a few ivory spots; D. Parlatorei, deep green, lustrous; D. picta, green blotched with white; D. picta Barraquiniana, green with prominent white center

veins, spotted white; D. picta Jenmannii, green with herringbone pattern of white veins; D. picta Rudolph Roehrs, leaves creamy yellow blotched ivory and with narrow green borders; D. picta superba, of compact habit, green very freely blotched or spotted with cream; D. Seguine liturata (D. Leopoldii), velvety green with bold white midribs; D. splendens, a hybrid kind with bronzy-green, velvety leaves that are spotted with ivory and have ivory midribs.

 



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