How to Grow and Care for a Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)

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Bleeding Heart or Asian Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is a species of flowering plant in the Poppy Family (Papaveraceae), native to Siberia, northern China, Korea and Japan. It is the sole species in the monotypic genus Lamprocapnos, but is still widely referenced under its old name Dicentra spectabilis.

It’s easy to see where the old-fashioned Bleeding Heart got its name. The pillow-like flower is heart shaped with a single dangling pendulous drop. Bleeding Hearts are shade loving woodland plants that bloom in the cool of spring. Although they stay in bloom for several weeks, the plants may disappear for the rest of the summer, if planted in too much sun or heat.

Growing Conditions

Light: In a moist and cool climate, Bleeding Heart will grow in full sun, but in warmer and drier climates it requires some shade.
Water: Keep plants well watered throughout the summer, especially in warmer weather. Even then, they may be ephemeral and disappear until the fall or next spring. If you’ve recently planted your Bleeding Heart, it would be wise to mark the spot, so you don’t accidentally dig in the area while your Bleeding Heart is dormant.
Soil: Bleeding Hearts prefer a rich, moist soil, but are not particular about soil pH.
Fertilizer: Bleeding Heart is not a heavy feeder, so when to fertilize depends on the quality of your soil. If you have rich, organic soil that is amended every year, you won’t have to feed at all.

Photo via panoramio.com

Propagating

Bleeding Hearts can be started from seed, division, cutting or seedling. It is very easy to divide Bleeding Heart plants. It should be divided after flowering, so you don’t sacrifice bloom. The fringed-leaf varieties divide nicely early in spring, as they are emerging. Bleeding Heart can also be started by seed or stem cuttings. Plants very often self-seed throughout your garden, although not to the point of being a nuisance. Sow seed outdoors in the fall; the seeds need a period of freezing temperatures. To start seeds indoors, place seeds in a pot of soil. Put the pot in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for 6-8 weeks. Remove the pot and all to germinate and grow in regular seedling conditions.

Problems

The biggest foe of Bleeding Heart is summer heat. Gardeners in warmer zones will have a tougher time establishing their plants than those in the colder zones. Leaves are susceptible to leaf spot. The easiest solution is to shear back the affected foliage. Although Bleeding Heart likes a moist soil, it can’t tolerate heavy, wet soil and may get root rot if left with wet feet too long.

Links

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