HOW TO GROW THE BLEEDING HEART - Lamprocapnos spectabilis (syn. Dicentra spectabilis)

The 'Bleeding Heart' - Dicentra spectabilis

The 'Bleeding Heart' - Dicentra spectabilis is one of the most popular of all the early flowering herbaceous perennials, and why wouldn't it be. The emerging foliage is so fresh and succulent that it looks good enough to eat (don't eat the foliage) and the beautifully heart-shaped flowers produced on arching stems are truly exquisite.

The 'Bleeding Heart' - Dicentra spectabilis
It is a native to Siberia, northern China, Korea and Japan, and it is from Japan that a legend behind the 'Bleeding Heart' name originates.

'...It begins with a young man who is trying to win the heart of the one he loves.

As a gift he gave her a pair of rabbits which represents the first two petals of the flower. Sadly for the young man she was unimpressed, but he wasn't to be disheartened and so gave her a second gift of a pair of slippers which are portrayed by the next two petals of the flower.

 Again she rejected his advances and as one last attempt to win her affection gave a final gift of a pair of earrings which are shown as the last two petals of the flower. She refused to show interest, and completely heart-broken, the young man pierced his heart with his sword which caused the bleeding heart (depicted by the middle structure of the flower). A sad tale indeed..!'

The 'White Bleeding Heart' - Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba'
Luckily for us, despite its delicate demeanour Dicentra spectabilis is surprisingly tough and more than capable of surviving in a northern European climate. They will perform best planted in a moist and cool climate, planted into any well-drained soil enriched with moss-peat or leaf mold. Keep them sheltered from late spring frosts, strong winds and the midday sun.  It can be grow in full sun, but in warmer and drier climates it will require some shade.The heart-shaped flowers will appear in May and June.

Dicentra spectabilis can be propagated by division from October and March. Divide and replant the roots during suitable weather. It can also be grown from seed but only that which has been freshly collected. Sow in seed trays using a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting' and keep at a germination temperature of 15 degrees Celsius.

Prick out the seedlings into 3 inch pots and harden them off in a cold frame for a few weeks before planting them out into their final position outside.

For related articles click onto the following links:
DICENTRA CUCULLARIA - Dutchman's Breeches
HOW TO GROW THE BLEEDING HEART - Dicentra spectabilis

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