Alphabetical Plant Listing

How to Grow and Care for Bleeding Heart

Dicentra spectabilis, Dicentra cucullaria, Dicentra eximia, Dicentra formosa, Dicentra canadensis, Lamprocapnos spectabilis, Dutchman's Breeches, Chinaman's Breeches, Locks and Keys, Lyre Flower, Seal Flower, Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart


Appealing to most gardeners, Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) are easy-care perennials with heart-shaped flowers dangling in arching panicles or racemes above attractively divided leaves. Shade tolerant, they can bloom over a long season, extending from late spring to early fall, in cooler climates. In hotter climates, flowering will usually stop in the heat of the summer, but may start again when the weather cools in late summer or early fall.

Beautiful in leaf as soon as they sprout, they quickly add their charming blooms and make elegant additions to the garden when combined with other shade-loving perennials.

All you need to know about Bleeding Hearts

  • Bleeding Heart is a member of the poppy family of flowering plants, Papaveraceae.
     
  • Named for its heart-shaped flowers that dangle above the foliage, Bleeding Heart belongs to the genus Dicentra which includes 8 species native to eastern Asia and North America.
    Among them is Dicentra spectabilis (renamed Lamprocapnos spectabilis), a widely popular Bleeding Heart species hailing from Siberia, northern China, Korea, and Japan.
    Not as commonly grown in cultivation, but still very handsome, are North American native species including Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn), Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches), Dicentra eximia (Fringed Bleeding Heart) and Dicentra formosa (Western Bleeding Heart).
     
  • Bleeding Hearts are rhizomatous or tuberous perennials that come back year after year. Some are ephemeral: they bloom for 4-6 weeks in late spring - early summer and tend to decline or even disappear for the rest of the summer. Others bloom over a long season extending from spring to fall.
     
  • Bleeding Heart can grow from under 12 in. (30 cm) to 36 in. tall (90 cm), depending on the species and varieties.
     
  • Bleeding Heart can be incredibly winter hardy (hardiness zones 3-9), depending on the species and varieties.
     
  • Most Bleeding Hearts perform best in partial to full shade, and may tolerate sun in cooler northern zones, provided the soil is kept consistently moist.
     
  • Common Bleeding Heart flower (Dicentra spectabilis) is great for shaded borders or woodland gardens, while the North American species are great for edging, rock gardens, underplanting shrubs or as ground covers. Some Bleeding Heart varieties make great fresh cut flowers lasting about 2 weeks in a vase.
     
  • Bleeding Hearts can spread naturally by rhizomes or self-seeding, but they are not considered to be aggressive or invasive.
     
  • Bleeding Heart attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, as well as other beneficial pollinators, but it is resistant to deer and rabbits.
     
  • Bleeding Heart is relatively trouble-free, although common garden problems such as aphids and powdery mildew are occasional issues.
     
  • All parts of the Bleeding Heart plant may cause stomach upset if ingested by humans. Bleeding Heart plants are also toxic to animals (cattle, sheep, and dogs) as they contain soquinoline alkaloids. The foliage may aggravate skin allergies. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling.
     

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Dicentra - Bleeding Hearts
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Maintenance Low
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders, Ground Covers, Underplanting Roses and Shrubs
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
Compare All Dicentra - Bleeding Hearts Great Plant Combination Ideas with Dicentra - Bleeding Hearts Guides with Dicentra - Bleeding Hearts

123rf

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Dicentra - Bleeding Hearts
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Maintenance Low
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders, Ground Covers, Underplanting Roses and Shrubs
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
Compare All Dicentra - Bleeding Hearts Great Plant Combination Ideas with Dicentra - Bleeding Hearts Guides with Dicentra - Bleeding Hearts

Find your Hardiness Zone

Find your Climate Zone

Find your Heat Zone

Join Gardenia.net

Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

Join now and start creating your dream garden!

Create a New Collection

Optional. For your reference.


Move Selected Plants to a Different Collection


Delete Collection

This field is required.

Rename Collection

This field is required.