Dicentra or bleeding heart is a stalwart in the old-fashioned perennial garden. A lover of shade gardens and even moisture in an organic soil (not a dry-shade plant) this is a typical woodland plant.
- Height: 12 – 36 inches
- Sun: Prefer part to full shade
- Distance apart: 12-24 inches (short varieties 12 – others 24)
- Propagation: mostly division although seed and cuttings will work (but trickier)
- Bloom time: D. spectabilis spring and D x hybrida most of summer
- Grow it: As a native woodlander – shade and even moisture for best resuilts. Put it out in hot sun and it will disappear in mid-summer to reappear next spring.
These plants are easily propagated by division in the very early spring and if done then, they will happily bloom that spring. The taller D. spectabilis can be propagated from cuttings but not easily. And all will self sow if happy in the garden.
This plant does not appreciate clay soils and will tend to die over the winter in these damp conditions.
The old fashioned bleeding heart – the one your grandmother grew – is Dicentra spectabilis and it comes in the traditional species pink blossom as well as ‘Alba’ a white version. They both grow to 36-inches tall and are vigorous plants.
A gold leaf variety ‘Goldheart’ has floated around the nursery trade here and there but has seen production problems. I had it for a few years but it didn’t do much in the way of growing other than form a nice tight clump of gold leaves and throw a few flowers. There is now a white-flowering form of this.
There have been speculations about the genetic heritage of the main class of plants, but all I know is that these next plants are very long blooming and rock hardy in my zone 4 garden.
D. x hybrida
- ‘Adrian Bloom’ bright, ruby-red flowers over mound of lacy blue-green leaves. Not vigorous in my garden.
- ‘Bacchanal’ true red blooms, lacy blue-green foliage
- ‘Candy Hearts’ rose-purple flowers, lacy blue foliage, compact
- ‘Ivory Hearts’ white flowering version of above
- ‘King of Hearts’ large rose red flowers, gray-green leaves. excellent
- ‘Langtrees’ white flowers, smoky-blue flowers
- ‘Luxuriant’ cherry pink blooms, ferny blue-green foliage – perhaps the best
- ‘Amore Pink’ soft pink, ferny green foliage.
- ‘Amore ‘Rose’ a soft rose-red with green foliage