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The Plant Guide

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Bleeding heart

Dicentra spectabilis

dy-SEN-trah spek-TAB-il-iss

A garden favorite for many years, bleeding heart has soft green foliage and 1-inch-long rose pink and white heart-shaped flowers for several weeks in spring. Plants can form clumps 3 feet across and almost as tall. Foliage generally goes dormant in summer, so be sure to choose companion plants carefully so there isn't an empty space left in the garden. Beautiful in a border or woodland garden.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsArching stems of little pink hearts that "bleed" white.

CareGrow in moist, humusy soil in part shade. Can take full sun in reliably moist soil. Prefers neutral or slightly alkaline pH. Protect from wind and frost.

PropagationSow seed in containers in a cold frame as soon as ripe or in spring. Divide carefully in early spring or after the leaves have died down. Insert root cuttings in winter.

ProblemsDowny mildew, Verticillium wilt, viruses, rust, and fungal leaf spots can occur. Slugs and snails may eat new growth.

  • Genus : Dicentra
  • Plant Width : 1 to 3 feet
  • Zones : 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Plant Height : 3 to 6 feet
  • Bloom Time : Early Summer, Late Spring, Spring, Summer
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Growth Rate : Moderate
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Plant Type : Perennials
  • Flower Color : Pink, White
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest
View Comments


  1. user-7007522 04/18/2015

    What is an appropriate fertilizer for the bleeding heart?

    1. amhuizar 05/20/2017

      I don't know if this is information that you are still looking for but I came here looking for the same info. I found it at another website, whiteflowerfarm.com. Fertilizer/Soil and pH: These plants are at their best
      in evenly moist, rich soil in partial to full shade. A two-inch layer of
      mulch will help buffer soil moisture and keep the ground cooler. A
      slightly acidic soil (pH 6.0 to 6.5) is ideal, but plants will tolerate a
      pH up to 7.5. Apply compost or a general purpose, granular fertilizer
      in spring. I hope this helps.

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