A Guide to Bleeding Hearts Care

A Guide to Bleeding Hearts Care

Table of Contents

If you haven’t yet lost your heart to the beauty and delicacy of bleeding heart flowers, this might be the article that pushes you over the edge. Impossibly easy to grow and offering foliage as striking as its heart-shaped blooms, a bleeding heart plant is the ideal addition to your shaded garden.

While it can be difficult to find flowering shrubs that offer vibrancy and vitality in the darker corners of your outdoor space, bleeding hearts are one of the options that will bring angelic beauty to your garden while winter still holds the rest of your plants hostage.

Native to Asia and often found in the US as a wildflower, this article is here to tell you everything you need to know about growing bleeding hearts at home, from their first bloom to how to look after its leaves and roots come winter.

Interested in other Asian flowers? Check out the wonderful meaning of Japanese flowers here!

How to grow a bleeding heart

Herbaceous perennials, bleeding hearts (also known as Dicentra spectabilis) are a showy spring flower that require very little effort to grow and maintain. Slow spreaders, they are perfect for interweaving with summer flowering shrubs or adding as a spring centerpiece to your patio beds.

Bleeding hearts planting instructions are simple. They need well-draining, rich, and loamy soil that has been strengthened with compost and organic matter. Work this through your soil before planting to improve soil quality as well as give it some much-needed aeration which will enable a looser consistency that stimulates root growth.

You want your soil to be moist but never waterlogged as this plant runs the risk of rotting if its feet get too wet.

Into this soil, you can plant bleeding hearts at any time the ground isn’t frozen but fall or early spring is best. If you plant in the fall, it will give your plant time to settle in and root itself over winter to prepare for a spring flowering. However, if planting bleeding hearts from pots that are already growing and flowering, you can also plant these in springtime once you ensure you water them adequately to give them the best chance of growth.

Bleeding hearts are planted quite shallow. For plants bought in pots, you will place their crowns at about soil level when planting. For bare root varieties of bleeding heart, smaller shrubs can be placed in your soil at a depth of approximately one inch. Double the depth for larger varieties ( 2 inches).

Bleeding Heart Bloom

How to care for bleeding hearts

Bleeding hearts aren’t particularly demanding but they are hungry and thirsty shrubs so the primary part of bleeding heart care is ensuring they have enough water and nutrients.

Keep the soil consistently moist (but never sodden) for your plant with roughly one inch of water per week. This is particularly important in warmer climates and throughout the summer.

Read how to water your plants while away here.

The most common problem to look out for with bleeding hearts is aphids. These bugs are fond of the pendulous flowers so be sure to inspect your plant regularly. Powdery mildew can also be an issue.

Related Post: Green Bugs on Roses

When does a bleeding heart bloom?

One of the best things about this plant is a bleeding heart’s bloom time. It arrives exactly when its pink and red colors are most needed: in early spring.

This makes it a wonderful addition to your garden, providing an essential burst of luscious vibrancy when the cold and barrenness of winter is still being keenly felt.

To avoid this, be sure to check out some of our favorite spring flowers that will help chase away the winter blues. Or, better yet, keep color and life in your garden year-round with these cold weather flowers.

Of course, you can keep the winter darkness and chills at bay with even more ease by using a flower delivery service like 1800Flowers or FromYouFlowers to have showstopping and cheerful bouquets delivered to your door – often even the same day as ordering!

Read our honest and comprehensive reviews of both of these services here to see for yourself why you can’t go wrong with an arrangement from them:

Where to plant a bleeding heart

One of the most important factors that determines the success of a bleeding heart’s blooming is its location. These are shade-loving perennials and so you should plant them in areas of partial to full shade that will remain cool throughout the hot summer months. Planting beneath a deciduous tree is an ideal location for a bleeding heart.

Do bleeding hearts like sun or shade?

As we’ve already mentioned, bleeding hearts are mostly shade-loving plants. However, in colder zones, bleeding hearts can tolerate full sun locations. So if you are living in an area with a colder climate, you can see your bleeding heart thrive in sunnier spots.

Bleeding heart temperature range

Bleeding hearts grow best in USDA Hardiness zones 2 – 9. The temperatures it prefers for optimum growth is 55° to 75° Fahrenheit. Though these plants tolerate – and even enjoy – high humidity, they are very sensitive to heat. So, once temperatures begin to rise above 75° Fahrenheit, bleeding heart leaves will begin to die back and enter dormancy.

Bleeding heart care after blooming

Once the foliage starts dying back, you know your plant is entering post-flowering dormancy. To look after it and keep it strong to survive the winter, allow the plant to yellow and wither before cutting back. Only when the foliage has fully faded should you then trim your plant back to a few inches above the soil line for winter.

Then, if worried about particularly cold weather damaging your plant, you can add an extra layer of mulch or other organic matter to your topsoil for insulating warmth. Then, you just have to keep an eye out for signs this plant is reblooming come early spring. This is the extent of bleeding heart winter care.

Easy to grow and even easier to love, don’t hesitate in filling your shaded garden with some bleeding heart plants. You won’t regret it!


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