Dicentra – Bleeding Heart, Perennials Guide to Planting Flowers

Dicentra and Dielytra - Bleeding Heart, Perennials Guide to Planting Flowers

The grace of the Dicentras charms us whether in the woods or the garden.

The Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis is one of our most showy old-fashioned flowers which everyone loves. It grows from 2 feet to 4 feet tall and spreads out almost the same distance. The leaves, which are a light, transparent green, are very neat, exceedingly graceful, and very fern-like. The flowers are heart-shaped, varying from a light pink to a rosy-crimson in color, and are produced in sprays along the stems. Have you ever taken one of these flowers apart to discover many interesting things-the two rabbits,’ a harp, grandpa’s glasses and a bottle?

The Bleeding Heart is closely related to many of our daintiest woodland flowers. The Squirrel’s Corn (D. canadensis) has small tubers resembling a kernel of Corn, the white flowers tipped with rose. The Dutchman’s Breeches (D. Cucullaria) has white flowers tipped with creamy yellow, the flowers closely resembling their namesake. Both of these sorts are natives.

The Plumy Bleeding Heart (D. eximia) is said to have the most handsome foliage of any border plant. Its flowers are rosy-pink and it is in bloom from May through August. It grows 9 to N inches tall and is a most worthy plant. The other Dicentras bloom earlier in April, May and June. The Golden Ear-drops (D. chrysantha) has golden yellow flowers, but is not so well known as the other native ones.

Where to plant a Bleeding Heart plant

The Bleeding Heart is fine for the border or margins of shrubbery. It is also grown as a pot plant and it forces so well that it is useful as a window plant. The native or woodland species naturalize beautifully along woodland walks, in the rock garden or in beds of ferns.

Plant guidance

As soon as the flowers of the Dicentras have finished blooming, the foliage dies down. This makes it difficult. to keep track of the various sorts unless they are in locations not easily forgotten. They are very easy of culture, doing well in either shady or sunny positions, although they are more at home in the shade. They like a rich, light soil.


They are propagated from seeds, division of the roots, or from young shoots which start from the soil in early Spring. These shoots or the roots should be divided just before they start growth.

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