Caring For Bleeding Hearts: How To Grow A Fringed Bleeding Heart Plant

Caring For Bleeding Hearts: How To Grow A Fringed Bleeding Heart Plant

By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer
Image by wbritten

Bleeding heart perennials are a classic favorite for partially shaded gardens. With small heart-shaped flowers that look like they’re “bleeding,” these plants capture the imagination of gardeners of all ages. While the old-fashioned Asian native bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is the most commonly used type in gardens, growing fringed bleeding heart varieties is gaining popularity. What is a fringed bleeding heart? Continue reading for more information on fringed bleeding heart plants.

What is a Fringed Bleeding Heart?

Fringed bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia) is native to the Eastern United States. It is found naturally throughout forest floors and shaded, rocky out-crops of the Appalachian Mountains. This native variety is also known as wild bleeding heart. They grow best in moist, humus rich soil in full to partially shaded locations. In the wild, fringed bleeding heart plants will naturalize by self-seeding, but they are not considered to be aggressive or invasive.

Hardy in zones 3-9, fringed bleeding heart grows to 1-2 feet (30-60 cm.) tall and wide. Plants produce fern-like, blue-green foliage that grows directly from the roots and stay low. This unique foliage is why they are called “fringed” bleeding heart.

The same deep to light pink, heart-shaped flowers can be found, but the stems grow more upright, not arching like Dicentra spectabilis. These flowers put on a spectacular bloom display in spring to early summer too; however, fringed bleeding heart may continue to sporadically bloom throughout summer and early autumn if it is growing in favorable conditions.

How to Grow a Fringed Bleeding Heart

Growing fringed bleeding heart plants requires a shady to partially shaded location with rich, fertile soil that is moist but well draining. In sites that stay too wet, fringed bleeding hearts may succumb to fungal diseases and rots, or snail and slug damage. If soil is too dry, plants will be stunted, fail to flower and will not naturalize.

In the wild, fringed bleeding heart grows best in sites where years of decaying plant debris has made the soil rich and fertile. In gardens, you will need to add compost and regularly fertilize these bleeding heart plants to meet their high nutrient needs.

Caring for bleeding hearts is as simple as planting them in the right site, watering them regularly and providing fertilizer. Slow release fertilizers for outdoor flowering plants are recommended. Fringed bleeding heart plants can be divided every 3-5 years in spring. Because of their toxicity when ingested, they are seldom bothered by deer or rabbits.

‘Luxuriant’ is a very popular variety of fringed bleeding heart with deep pink blooms and a very long bloom period. It will tolerate full sun when watered regularly. ‘Alba’ fringed bleeding heart is a popular variety with white heart-shaped blooms.

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