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Growers Guide for Bleeding Heart Plant

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Dicentra - Perennial Plant, How to grow

How to grow Dicentra Bleeding Heart.

From the Greek di, two, kentron, a spur, referring to the two spurs on the petals (Fumariaceae). Hardy herbaceous perennials formerly known as Dielytra. Fibrous and tuberous rooted, they generally transplant badly because the roots are as brittle as glass. The flowers are pendant from arching stems, like lanterns hung along a cord.

Species Grown Today

Dicentra cucullaria, Dutchman’s breeches, 6 inches, very divided pale green foliage, flowers pearl white, tipped yellow, May and June.

Dicentra eximia, 1-2 feet, reddish-purple flowers, May and September and intermittently between; var. alba, white flowers.

Dicentra formosa, 1-2 feet, pink or light red, long flowering period; ‘Bountiful’ is a larger-flowered cultivar, with deep pink flowers.

Dicentra oregana, 6 inches, flowers creamy-pink, tipped purple, May and June.

Dicentra peregrina (syn. D. pusilla), 3 inches, rose-pink flowers in June and July, a good plant for a screen in the rock garden.

Dicentra spectabilis, Chinaman’s breeches, bleeding-heart, lyre flower, 1-2 feet, flowers rose-red, May and June; var. alba, white, a garden hybrid (D. eximia x D. formosa), 9-12 inches has deep red flowers.

Where to plant and how to propagate

Dicentras will grow in light shade or full sun provided the soil does not dry out the roots. A rich loam is best with shelter from ‘cold winds. Some protection may be needed in winter. Propagation is by root cuttings in March or April raised in a temperature of about 55°F (13°C). Division of plants is possible in spring, but difficult because the roots are very brittle.

D. spectabilis is sometimes grown in pots and forced in a compost of equal parts of loam, peat and sand. The plants are kept frost free all winter and taken into a temperature of 55-65°F (13-18°C) during February and started into growth. Water, and feed moderately with a liquid feed once the buds begin to show. Forced plants should be planted out in the open ground after they have flowered


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