Bleeding heart adds a touch of color to shade plantings

Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is a shade-loving perennial plant. In the spring, bleeding heart presents dangling heart-shaped blooms of white, pink, or red and white. The plant can tolerate dappled shade or morning sun followed by shade the rest of the day. Bleeding heart is cold tolerate in USDA planting zones 3 to 9.

The blossoms of bleeding heart along with its bright green foliage look good against a background of fellow shade-lovers ferns and hosta.

Planted in a pot, bleeding heart will keep to about 12 inches tall. Planted in the ground in the spring, the plant can reach 18 to 36 inches tall and  about 3 feet wide. Divide bleeding heart in the fall and replant about 2 feet apart. After the flowers wilt, clip off spent blooms to encourage more blooms. Click here to learn how to divide a bleeding heart root ball.

If the chosen bedding site receives too much sun, particularly late afternoon sun, bleeding heart tends to wilt. Keeping soil moist can help prevent that.  A layer of mulch such as 1 to 2 inches of pine chips or leaf mold can help to retain moisture and block weed growth. If the plant completely wilts to the point of looking dead, don’t worry. It will come back next spring. Cut to the ground in late fall or early spring.

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