Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Spring Valentine

Could there be any better spring flower to showcase on Valentine's Day than old-fashioned Bleeding Hearts?

I have three varieties of Bleeding Hearts in my garden; Dicentra spectabilis, Dicentra spectabilis 'Goldheart' and Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba'. All three are planted in part-shade.

The pretty, fern-like foliage appears in early May and lasts well into mid-summer, when conditions here in Southern Ontario tend to get drier than Dicentra prefer. By then, their fading foliage is hidden by other plants. The dangling heart-shaped flowers generally last into early June.

Here are just a few of the many cultivars available:

Common Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis: This common variety is still one of my favourite Bleeding Hearts. It takes a few years to come into its own, but when it does, Dicentra spectabilis forms a generous mound of fresh green foliage. You can refresh the plant after it flowers by cutting it to 6" above the ground, but even so, it will go dormant by late summer. Light to full shade. Height: 70-90 cm, Spread: 70-90 cm. Average to moist soil. USDA Zones 2-9.

Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis, 'Goldheart': This Bleeding Heart has amazing golden foliage and magenta colored, heart-shaped flowers. Height: 60-90 cm, Spread: 60-90 cm. Part or full shade. Average to moist soil. Will go dormant by late summer. Hardy: Zones 2-9.

A heart lovin' bee

Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis, 'Alba': This Bleeding Heart has bright green foliage and white flowers. Height: 70-90 cm, Spread: 70-90 cm. Light shade to full shade. Average to moist soil. Hardy: Zones 2-9.

Fern-leaf Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa 'Bacchanal': has grey-green foliage and deep magenta flowers. Height: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches) Part or full shade. Average to moist soil. USDA Zones 2-9.

Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa 'Luxuriant'is another compact fern-leaf Bleeding Heart that has blue-green foliage and clusters of magenta-red flowers. Fern-leafed varieties are great for the front of a border and may also be used in containers. Height: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). Part or full shade. Average to moist soil. USDA Zones 2-9.

Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa 'Adrain Bloom''Adrain Bloom' is a compact plant with blue-green foliage and clusters of magenta-pink flowers. Removing spent flowers should encourage a long season of bloom. Height: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). Part or full shade. Average to moist soil. USDA Zones 2-9.

Have a Happy Valentines Day!

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  1. just can't beat a bleeding heart! I loved the one with the bumble on. Those videos you posted are great, I've seen all

  2. They're all so beautiful. I've tried growing Alba 3 different times in different gardens but they never survive. Boo.

  3. Wow, I shouldn't have needed a reminder to purchase bleeding hearts for my garden, but I did. I have a ton of places around here where they would do quite well.

  4. I only have the common one but am always astounded by its beauty and that it makes it through the winter to return and surprise me once more. Happy St. Valentine's Day Jennifer.

  5. I love this plant very much, Jennifer. I have the two first varieties and never seen 'Luxuriant', is wonderful.
    I'd like to purchase it!

  6. Wonderful Valentine post Jennifer, I love the bleeding hearts in the garden and also have some varieties. Beautiful picture of the heartloving bee!

  7. Aren't they the perfect Valentine flower? Shame we have to wait till May to enjoy them!!

  8. The perfect flower for Valentine's Day! I have just the common bleeding heart and didn't realize the fern-leaved cultivars were so short. I would love to add a couple of these to the front of my shady border.

  9. This is the perfect Valentine's Day posting, Jennifer. Your dicentras are beautiful. P. x

  10. Just lovely. I had four at one time but have lost them all over the last several years and several droughts. I want to replace at least one. They are the prettiest and most delicate little flowers and so graceful the way they arch and nod.

  11. The best tonic for this time of year. The simple old-fashioned Dicentra spectabilis is wonderful (of course the quality of your picture helps!)

  12. I adore Bleeding Hearts. I have the pink/white variety and a white one but the old-fashioned one died. My mom has one though so I just walk next door to enjoy hers. Your photos are gorgeous. It's a perfect flower for V-Day.

  13. You too Jennifer!!! I too love bleeding hearts and almost came home with a lime green variety this past year. Beautiful photos friend!!! Nicole xoxo

  14. One of my very favorite signs of spring.
    The white ones are a bit rare to see around here, but I did find one last year, and it was just gorgeous.

    Happy Valentines Day, my friend!

  15. Beautiful range of heats! These are one of my favourite springflowers. I have many of them in my garden, both pink and white. They bloom so rich in the shadow part.
    Happy Sunday.

  16. I adore bleeding heart especially the common variety. The past few winters and cold springs have kept them from blooming in my garden. I miss them.

  17. There is nothing that says spring more than bleeding hearts in full bloom. I remember the convent next door to my school was filled with them. We thought it was devilish to pluck a few blooms, run over to a nun, and pop it open giggling "look sister, lady in a bathtub!" and scurry away. I really wonder what they thought of us. I love the funky varieties and will look for them. Beautiful post as always Jennifer.

  18. wondering if you can split them anytime of the year?

    1. Bleeding Hearts are spring flowering so spring is not the season to move or divide them. The best time to divide a Bleeding Heart is in early fall. A few days before you want to divide them, give your Bleeding Hearts a good drink.
      Cut any yellowing foliage to the ground. Dig in a wide circle around the plant with a fork or shovel to loosen the soil. Then lift the roots from the ground. Divide the roots by pulling them apart or cutting them with a clean knife into sections that contain 3 to 5 buds. When you replant the sections, amend the soil with a little compost. The divisions should be planted at a depth of 6-8 inches. Water well. Add some mulch to give the new plants a bit of winter protection. Hope that helps!


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