By Becca Badgett
(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)
Blooms of the bleeding heart plant (Dicentra spectabilis) appear in early spring adorning the garden with attention getting, heart shaped flowers borne on arching stems. Attractive bluish green foliage emerges first as the plant wakes from dormancy and flowers of the bleeding heart may be pink and white or solid white as with the bleeding heart cultivar “Alba’.
How to Grow Bleeding Hearts
Care for bleeding heart includes keeping the soil consistently moist by regular watering. The bleeding heart plant likes to be planted in organic soil in a shady or part shade area. Work in compost in the area before planting the bleeding heart plant in fall or spring.
Organic mulch breaks down over time to supply nutrients and helps retain moisture. Growing bleeding hearts need a cool, shady area for optimum bloom in warmer southern zones, but farther north this specimen may bloom in a full sun location.
An herbaceous perennial, the bleeding heart plant dies back to the ground as the heat of summer arrives. As the bleeding heart plant begins to yellow and wither away, foliage may be cut back to the ground as a part of care for bleeding heart. Do not remove the foliage before it turns yellow or brown; this is the time when your bleeding heart plant is storing food reserves for next years growing bleeding hearts.
Bleeding heart flower care includes regular fertilization of the growing bleeding heart. When foliage emerges in spring, time release plant food may be worked into the soil around the plant, as may additional compost. This is an important step in growing bleeding heart, as it encourages more and longer lasting blooms.
Many are surprised that growing bleeding hearts is so simple. Once you are aware of how to grow bleeding hearts, you may want to use them to brighten dark and shady areas.
Seeds of the growing bleeding heart may add more plants to the garden, but the surest method of propagation is to divide clumps every few years. Carefully dig up the roots of the bleeding heart, remove roots that are dried up and divide the rest. Plant these into other areas of the garden for an early spring show.