Dicentra – Perennial Plant, How to grow

How to grow Dicentra (di-sen-tra)

From the Greek di, two, kentron, a spur, referring to the two spurs on the petals (Fumariaceae). Hardy herbaceous perennials formerly known as Dielytra. Fibrous and tuberous rooted, they generally transplant badly because the roots are as brittle as glass. The flowers are pendant from arching stems, like lanterns hung along a cord.

Species cultivated D. cucullaria, Dutchman’s breeches, 6 inches, very divided pale green foliage, flowers pearl white, tipped yellow, May and June. D. eximia, 1-14 feet, reddish-purple flowers, May and September and intermittently between; var. alba, white flowers. D. formosa, 1-1k feet, pink or light red, long flowering period; ‘Bountiful’ is a larger-flowered cultivar, with deep pink flowers. D. oregana, 6 inches, flowers creamy-pink, tipped purple, May and June. D. peregrina (syn. D. pusilla), 3 inches, rose-pink flowers in June and July, a good plant for a scree in the rock garden.

D. spectabilis, Chinaman’s breeches, bleeding-heart, lyre flower, 14-2 feet, flowers rose-red, May and June; var. alba, white, a garden hybrid (D. eximia x D. formosa), 9-12 inches has deep red flowers.

Cultivation Dicentras will grow in light shade or full sun provided the soil does not dry out the roots. A rich loam is best with shelter from ‘cold winds. Some protection may be needed in winter. Propagation is by root cuttings in March or April raised in a temperature of about 55°F (13°C). Division of plants is possible in spring, but difficult because the roots are very brittle. D. spectabilis is sometimes grown in pots and forced in a compost of equal parts of loam, peat and sand. The plants are kept frost free all winter and taken into a temperature of 55-65°F (13-18°C) during February and started into growth. Water, and feed moderately with a liquid feed once the buds begin to show. Forced plants should be planted out in the open ground after they have flowered

Dichorisandra (di-kore-iss-and-ra) From the Greek dis, twice, chorizo, to part, aner, anther, referring to the 2-valved anthers (Commelinaceae). A genus of herbaceous perennial plants from tropical America, grown mainly for their ornamental foliage, though some also have showy flowers. They need warm greenhouse treatment in cooler areas.

Species cultivated D. mosaica, 2 feet, leaves green with white veins and other marks, reddish-purple on the undersides, flowers bright blue, autumn, Peru. D. pubescens, 2 feet, flowers blue; var. taeniensis, leaves striped with white, flowers blue and white, Brazil. D. thyrsiflora, 4 feet or more, leaves dark green, flowers 1 dark blue in a 6 inch long spike, summer to autumn, Brazil. D. vittata, 6-12 inches, leaves purplish-green with white stripes, Brazil.

Cultivation These plants are potted up in March in a compost consisting of loam, leafmould and peat in equal parts, plus a little silver sand. The pots should be in the warmest part of the greenhouse, where a winter temperature of 55-65°F (13-18°C) can be maintained, rising in summer to 75-85°F (24-29°C), when shading from sunlight should be provided. Water freely from spring to autumn, moderately only in winter and avoid draughts at all times. Propagation is by seeds sown in heat in spring, by division of the plants in March or by cuttings taken at almost any time, rooted in a propagating case with bottom heat.


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