Bleeding heart flower leaves

Dicentra eximia

wild bleeding heart Interesting Notes

This long-blooming perennial adds a delicate texture to the garden with intricately cut blue-green leaves. The heart-shaped flowers appear in early spring and continue sporadically throughout the growing season. Pendulous pink but occasionally white flowers are held on 10-16” tall stems. Tolerant of some sun, wild bleeding heart thrives in filtered shade. It requires extra moisture after transplanting but once established does well under dry conditions. Wild bleeding heart is useful in a mixed border or naturalistic garden. It looks especially showy planted with the colorful leaves of Heuchera americana and contrasted with the bold round leaves of Asarum canadense. – Mt. Cuba Center

Fringed bleeding heart is a mound shaped plant growing to about 18 inches with blue-green, finely textured leaves. The main bloom period occurs in early summer, but with good moisture and deadheading it will continue to bloom into the fall. This perennial prefers a partially shaded site and well-drained soil. Wet soils during the winter and dry soils during the summer lead to plant loss. The foliage of fringed bleeding heart will not die back like that of old fashioned bleeding heart.

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Saturday – May 09, 2015

From: New Cumberland, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification, Wildflowers
Title: Bleeding Heart-Like Plant Identification in PA
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


Hi Mr. Smarty Plants. We have a plant that looks almost like the bleeding heart, as in the way the bell shaped (not heart) white flowers hang downward on the stem. However, the leaves are broader and have a bit of white on the edges. The little flowers appear to be white, but then seem to have a bit of green on the tips, not yet opened. We are not sure what family this plant is from or if its a perennial or have to replant each year. We got this in a yard sale with no id on the plant. It was thought to be a bleeding heart, but the leaves are not the same nor the flowers. It stands about 12 inches or so. We are not sure how tall or wide this plant will get. The flowers hang single downward on the stalk in a line, just like the bleeding heart. We like your help if you can to identify this plant. We thought it to be part of the bell flower family, but cannot find a picture to identify it and also if a white flower is common for this plant or not. Thank you for your help if you can.


Your description sounds like a variegated relative of the Smooth Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum). This tough perennial has white and green bell-shaped flowers that dangle down below the arching stem. Here’s what we have on our webpage about this great plant…

The zig-zag arching stalks are from 1-5 ft. long. Nodding, greenish-white, tubular flowers hang in pairs from the axils of the oval, conspicuously veined leaves. Hanging from the leaf axils on an arching stem are a few (often 2) greenish-white, bell-like flowers. Blue berries follow the flowers of this perennial. The root is rhizomatous but non-colonizing.

The graceful arching stems and pendulous flowers (often hidden) characterize this common plant. Another, almost identical species, Hairy Solomons Seal (P. pubescens), is distinguished by minute hairs along veins on undersides of leaves. A much larger variety of this species, Great Solomon’s Seal (P. biflorum var. commutatum), has larger flowers, 2-10 per cluster, and may be 7 (2.1 m) feet tall. The rootstalk, or rhizome, of the Solomons Seal is jointed; the leaf stalk breaks away from it, leaving a distinctive scar said to resemble the official seal of King Solomon. Native Americans and colonists used the starchy rhizomes as food.

Usually 2 feet tall, but occasionally exceeds 3 feet.

One of the variegated forms is Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum ‘Variegatem’ and can be found on the Missouri Botanical Garden website.

Easily grown in moist, humusy, organically rich, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Best performance occurs in cool sun-dappled shady areas. Dislikes hot summer conditions. Slowly spreads by thin rhizomes to form colonies in optimum growing conditions.

From the Image Gallery

Smooth solomon’s seal
Polygonatum biflorum
Smooth solomon’s seal
Polygonatum biflorum
Smooth solomon’s seal
Polygonatum biflorum
Smooth solomon’s seal
Polygonatum biflorum
Smooth solomon’s seal
Polygonatum biflorum
Smooth solomon’s seal
Polygonatum biflorum

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Bleeding Heart Flower Care – How To Grow Bleeding Hearts

Blooms of the bleeding heart plant (Dicentra spectabilis) appear in early spring adorning the garden with attention-getting, heart-shaped flowers borne on arching stems. Attractive bluish-green foliage emerges first as the plant wakes from dormancy and flowers of the bleeding heart may be pink and white or solid white as with the bleeding heart cultivar ‘Alba’.

How to Grow Bleeding Hearts

Care for bleeding heart includes keeping the soil consistently moist by regular watering. The bleeding heart plant likes to be planted in organic soil in a shady or part shade area. Work compost into the area before planting the bleeding heart plant in fall or spring.

Organic mulch breaks down over time to supply nutrients and helps retain moisture. Growing bleeding hearts need a cool, shady area for optimum bloom in warmer southern zones, but farther north this specimen may bloom in a full sun location.

An herbaceous perennial, the bleeding heart plant dies back to the ground as the heat of summer arrives. As the bleeding heart plant begins to yellow and wither away, foliage may be cut back to the ground as a part of care for bleeding heart. Do not remove the foliage before it turns yellow or brown; this is the time when your bleeding heart plant is storing food reserves for next year’s growing bleeding hearts.

Bleeding heart flower care includes regular fertilization of the growing plant. When foliage emerges in spring, time-release plant food may be worked into the soil around the plant, as may additional compost. This is an important step in growing bleeding heart, as it encourages more and longer lasting blooms.

Many are surprised that growing bleeding hearts is so simple. Once you are aware of how to grow bleeding hearts, you may want to use them to brighten dark and shady areas.

Seeds of the growing bleeding heart may add more plants to the garden, but the surest method of propagation is to divide clumps every few years. Carefully dig up the roots of the bleeding heart, remove roots that are dried up and divide the rest. Plant these into other areas of the garden for an early spring show.

Brilliantly Interesting Facts About the Bleeding Heart Plant

One of the popular ornamental plants, the bleeding heart plant has heart-shaped flowers with dangling tips. Go through this article to know more about some bleeding heart plant facts.

Bleeding heart! What an amazing name for a plant! Like the name, the plant too is fascinating with spectacular heart-shaped flowers. These pink-colored flowers have small dangling tips that are compared to drops of blood.

In fact, the most attractive part of a bleeding heart plant is its flowers. Native to China, Japan and certain other regions of Asia, these plants are now grown in various parts of the world, for ornamental purposes. If you are interested in knowing more about this plant, continue reading this Gardenerdy article.

Bleeding Heart Taxonomy

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Bleeding heart plant (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) belongs to the genus Lamprocapnos in the family Fumariaceae. This species was earlier classified as a member of the genus Dicentra in the same family. So, formerly, the plant was known as Dicentra spectabilis. It has various other names like lyre’s flower, lady in a bath, Venus’s car and Dutchman’s trousers. The plant is often confused for other plants, like, bleeding heart vine (a member of the Verbenaceae family) and some of the members of the genus Dicentra. However, you can recognize a bleeding heart with its heart-shaped flowers.

Bleeding Heart Plant Characteristics

The all-time favorite among garden growers, Lamprocapnos spectabilis is now available in various types. While the different bleeding heart varieties vary in foliage and flower color, the old one can be recognized with the pink-colored flowers having white dangling tips. The leaves are compound with three leaflets and the stems are almost pinkish green in color. The plant size may vary with the different varieties, but they may grow to a maximum height of three feet. The flowers are produced on racemes that grow in a horizontal fashion. Each of these hanging flowers has a length of one to two inches. These plants are found to produce flowers during late spring to early summer.

As mentioned above, the flowers have pink petals on the outside and the inner parts are white, with white dangling tips. Being deciduous in nature, these plants lie dormant after the blooming season, but grows back the next spring.

Bleeding heart is one of those poisonous ornamental plants and it is not advisable to ingest any part of this plant. They must be handled carefully, as these plants can cause skin irritation too. The above mentioned characteristics are that of old-fashioned Lamprocapnos spectabilis. The cultivars may have different characteristics. You may find the variety named ‘Gold heart’ with yellowish green foliage.

Another variety called fern-leaf bleeding heart has beautiful cut-leaf foliage. The cultivar termed ‘Alba’ produces white flowers and is commonly known as white bleeding heart.

Though the ‘old-fashioned’ type is highly popular, the new varieties are also in demand. If you are interested in growing this plant, you may opt for the variety you like. Now that you have a fair idea about some interesting facts about bleeding heart plant, let us take a look at how to grow them.

How to Care for Bleeding Heart Plants?

Bleeding hearts are considered as shade-loving plants. However, some of them can tolerate full sun, if you maintain the moisture of the soil. They love moist soil and cool weather. The soil for planting them must be fertile as well as well drained. You have to apply a good amount of compost around the plant during spring. Get a healthy plant from the nursery during spring and plant it in a location with partial shade.

You may add a small amount of fertilizer while planting a bleeding heart. Once the blooming season is over, you may trim the dying foliage. If the cultivar you have planted has foliage that remains throughout the year, you have to water the plant regularly. These plants are less prone to diseases and pests. In case of leaf spots, remove the affected parts.

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In short, bleeding heart plants are highly popular for their spectacular flowers as well as the ease of growing. You can get some of them and enhance the beauty of your garden. This article is only for informational purposes. So, it will be better to gain some knowledge about how to grow a bleeding heart, before you start growing them in your garden.

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Bleeding-heart (Lamprocampos spectabilis, formerly Dicentra spectabilis) is an old-fashioned favorite in the shade garden. Many gardeners have fond memories of the pink, heart-shaped flowers with their white teardrops and ferny foliage in their grandmother’s garden.

Reliable and undemanding in the right place, Bleeding-heart gives a burst of pink and green in spring and early summer, then yields to later season plants as it goes dormant until the next year. Well-established plantings can last for many years.

Here’s the information you need to make Bleeding-hearts a treasured part of your garden.


Bleeding-heart is an herbaceous perennial related to poppies and buttercups. It is native to Siberia, northern China, Korea, and Japan, and is related to several similar native North American wildflowers, such as Dutchman’s Breeches and Fringed Bleeding-Heart.

The species name, “spectabilis,” means showy or spectacular. Arching flower stalks emerge in the spring and bloom in single file, from base to tip. Flowers are usually some shade of pink but there are white varieties. Breeders have crossed the domestic plant with its wild relatives, creating attractive hybrids called fern leaf Bleeding-hearts.

Bleeding-heart grows in clumps from tubers, similar to peonies. Leaves may spread up to three feet and reach about the same height. Clumps will grow gradually larger but will not invade other areas.

As with many spring-flowering plants, Bleeding-heart has its show, then departs. Foliage naturally turns yellow in mid-summer and dies back as the plant goes dormant. Shade-loving ferns and hostas, which continue to grow over the summer, will cover the space. Bleeding-hearts are ideal for woodland gardens and shady borders.


Climate and sun: Bleeding-heart is hardy from zone 2 to 9. In the south, it needs a shady spot but in cooler northern areas it may tolerate full sun. Typically it prefers part shade to full shade. Protect from wind, which may damage the plant.

Soil: Well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter works best. Fast-drying soil will force the plant into early dormancy unless it receives extra water. Soggy soil will cause root rot. Neutral to slightly alkaline pH is best, but Bleeding-heart can grow under conifers. Mulch helps retain moisture and keeps the soil cool.

Maintenance: Bleeding-heart needs little care beyond the basic chores of weeding, protection from trampling, and fall cleanup. Spring dressing with compost will keep the soil fertile and the plant vigorous. Spent flower stalks can be removed unless you want to save the seeds. The leaves continue to produce food for next year as long as they are green. Don’t cut them down until they are thoroughly yellow. Marking the spot with a plant label will keep you from accidentally trying to plant something else over the dormant clump.


Bleeding-heart is usually a trouble-free plant. Deer and rabbits ignore it. Occasionally slugs and snails may damage young foliage and require treatment with slug bait.

Here are some other potential problems:

  • Yellow leaves before midsummer may indicate too much water leading to root rot, not enough water in an exposed location, too much heat or sun, or soil pH that is too high. Peat moss or sulfur can be applied to adjust the pH. One variety, Gold Heart, has naturally yellow foliage.
  • Aphids are small, green, flightless insects that cluster on tender foliage and suck plant juices. They can be washed off with spray from a hose or sprayed with insecticidal soap.
  • Downy mildew forms a white powder on the leaves. It is unsightly but rarely damaging. It can be controlled by improving air circulation or spraying with a fungicide.
  • Other fungal diseases include verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and stem rot. Verticillium wilt makes the leaves wilt. Fusarium wilt turns the lower leaves yellow, and stem rot is a slimy fungus that attacks the stems. None of them are curable. Dig out the affected plant and destroy it.


In a good location and without deadheading of spent flower stalks, Bleeding-heart may reseed itself and the seedlings can be transplanted. Seeds to be grown in pots must be chilled for several weeks before being planted in soil. Young plants may not flower for several years.

Other than natural seedlings, the easiest way to get new Bleeding-heart plants is to dig up an existing plant and divide it. This should be done in spring before new growth starts or in fall after it has gone dormant. Individual tubers should have one or two eyes.

Nurseries may sell plants in containers, as bare roots, or bagged tubers. Container plants can go in the ground any time, although plants may need extra attention during hot, dry weather. Bare root plants are best planted in the spring, and tubers can be planted in spring or fall. Work some compost into the soil first. Plant tubers with the eyes on top, about 1 inch deep. Water and add mulch. Since Bleeding-heart foliage spreads, allow two to three feet between plants. If desired, fill in with shade-loving annuals while the plants establish themselves.


Bleeding heart, lamprocapnos spectabilis is a decorative shrub with fascinating heart-shaped blossoms. On their opening a white tear appears to be emerging from each blossom.

The filigree pinnate foliage possesses a unique decorative effect and forms a beautiful contrast to the white or reddish blossoms. Together with roses and forget-me-nots the bleeding heart (lamprocapnos spectabilis) leaves are appealing embellishments for colorful spring bouquets.

Plant Profile

  • Family: Papaveraceae
  • Genus: Lamprocapnos
  • Binomial name: Lamprocapnos spectabilis (Dicentra spectabilis)
  • English names: bleeding heart, Asian bleeding heart
  • Origin: montane forests of Eastern Asia
  • Growth: perennial, herbaceous, overhanging
  • Growth height: 60 – 150 cm
  • Blossom: heart-shaped, overhanging one-sided racemes, mostly pink, less often white
  • Blooming period: depending on the strain between May and August, less often starting in April
  • Leaves: compound, gray-green
  • Uses: bedding and pot plant, cut flowers
  • Toxicity: all plant components are toxic

This shrub originates in the montane forests of Eastern Asia. It is a perennial, persistent and herbaceous plant. The heart-shaped blossoms are situated unilaterally on overhanging flowering twigs and offer the largest decorative effect.

The pinkish or white outer petals arch outwards in the lower section and thereby form the typical heart shape. A white drop-shaped petal, which looks like a tear, emerges from the middle of the heart. Blossoms and leaves adorn traditional cottage gardens, borders and pots.


Bleeding heart, lamprocapnos spectabilis, an iconic plant, can be planted out in beds or grown in pots in which it embellishes terraces and balconies. The plant is fairly modest. Nevertheless there are various things to keep in mind in order for the bleeding heart to develop into a magnificent shrub.


In its native home the bleeding heart (lamprocapnos spectabilis) grows in the medium shade of open and wind-protected forest biomes. Similar conditions are needed in the domestic garden. A bright space in the shade is ideal such as an underplanting of open woodland or a spot on the rim of shade garden beds. Unlike blazing sun a few occasional sunbeams do not pose a problem for the bleeding heart.

Keeping the bleeding heart (lamprocapnos spectabilis) permanently in a very bright location causes it to wither whereas older plants tolerate more sun. Full shade areas are not appropriate for the plant. As the bleeding heart likes to remain in its habitat, it is preferable not to transplant this shrub. The bleeding heart develops the best when it can grow without disturbances for many years.


  • This shrub thrives in water-permeable, humid and slightly calcareous soils.
  • The soil should be fresh and moist and possess a high water storage capacity.
  • Chalk in the form of calcareous water has the potential to heighten the soil’s storage capacity.
  • A slightly acid to neutral soil is ideal with a pH-value between 6.5 and 7.0.


The best time for planting this magnificent shrub is in spring after mid-April. The bleeding heart (lamprocapnos spectabilis) is very sensitive to night frost. In the beginning it can be covered with or wrapped in fleece as a precautionary measure. It is advisable to incorporate compost into the soil before planting the flower. This lays a good foundation for the plant.

It needs to be watered directly after the planting as well as regularly in the first weeks (initial phase). If the bleeding heart is planted in groups, a planting distance of 40-60 cm is advisable so that each plant can develop optimally.

The bleeding heart (lamprocapnos spectabilis) blooms fairly early in the year. Thus its magnificent bloom age is over rather fast.

In addition, the leaves turn yellow and the plant dies back to the ground. The resulting gaps after the blooming period can be concealed easily with the right companion plant. Medium-shade shrubs such as rattle root, host and columbine as well as wood asters and ferns are most suitable for this purpose. Through contact with the poisonous bleeding heart skin irritations can occur. Thus it is useful to wear gloves.


In case a transplantation of the plant is necessary, the best moment is after the blooming period. At first a planting hole is dug at the new location. Moreover, the soil in this space is aerated and mixed with compost.

Subsequently, the plant is lifted from the ground without damaging the roots. Loose soil is shaken off carefully and the roots are checked for potential damage. Sick and damaged parts of the root are removed before planting the bleeding heart (lamprocapnos spectabilis) promptly at the new location. Finally, the soil is tramped down and the area is watered thoroughly.


The soil should neither be too wet nor completely dry. The bleeding heart needs a consistent but moderate water supply. Preferably the plant is watered regularly in small portions rather than extensively every few weeks. Waterlogging should be avoided as it heightens the risk of root rot which could cause a loss of the whole plant in the worst case.


The plant does not require a regular renewal pruning. In fact it would rather weaken the plant. Left alone the bleeding heart is highly floriferous and grows lushly. Only withered blossoms are to be removed.

This strengthens the rootstock, encourages flower formation and prevents the plant from using too much energy for seed formation. Stems and leaves can be cut off as soon as the foliage is fully withered. As long as parts of the leafage are still green, the plant draws nutrients from the leaves which are needed for overwintering.


  • Give plenty of compost in springtime before the blooming period and in fall
  • Or an equivalent organic fertilizer
  • Organic fertilizers function like slow release fertilizers
  • Use commercial fertilizers only in a highly diluted form
  • Await the last soil frost for the spring fertilization
  • Otherwise the plant will be deprived of vital heat


When the shrub was planted in spring, it is strong enough to survive the winter without any protection. Nevertheless it does not hurt to apply a layer of mulch to the root area. The situation is different for bleedings hearts that are planted in fall.

Here night frost in springtime is particularly problematic, especially if the plant has already started to sprout. For protection it can be covered with either multiple layers of garden fleece or a thick layer of mulch or dry leafage. Young plants that are grown from cuttings are preferably overwintered in pots and indoors.

Keeping the plant in a pot

The right plant container

For balconies and terraces bleeding hearts lend themselves to be kept in a pot. For this purpose the plant container should not be too small but equipped with drainage holes. A wide and deep plant tub is ideal as it enables the roots to spread out in an unimpeded manner.

If the pot is too small, the plant barely grows and the flower formation suffers. Moreover, the pot should be made of natural materials such as clay. These have an advantage over plastic pots as moisture can evaporate more easily.

Care demands

Potting soil for bloomers and balcony plants is particularly suitable for bleeding hearts and should be aerated with sand. A drainage layer made of expanded clay or clay balls is to be kept in mind for an optimal water outlet.

The soil in the pot should not dry up. Thus one waters the plant regularly but waits for the surface to dry before each watering. Bleeding hearts (lamprocapnos spectabilis) can be fertilized with compost or a liquid complete fertilizer.

There are several methods to overwinter pot plants. They can be overwintered in a well-lit and frost-free room or planted out in the garden together with the pot. If the outdoor overwintering is chosen, the pot should be wrapped in fleece, raffia mats or bubble wrap. In addition, the root area should be covered with foliage, compost or brushwood.

The best option is to place the pot on a wooden or foam board rather than putting it directly on the ground. In the wintertime the plant is watered only sporadically and exclusively on frost-free days. Bleeding hearts are not fertilized in that period.



  • Cut off about 15 cm long green shoot tips from the mother plant after the blooming period
  • Place them in a glass of water to grow roots
  • Put the glass in a well-lit area and change the water regularly
  • The root development takes place after about 2-3 weeks
  • The young plants can be planted into small pots filled with a mixture of sand and humus
  • Grow them indoors at first as they are still fairly delicate
  • Only plant them outside in the subsequent spring

Root cuttings

In order to attain the needed root cuttings, the roots are partially bared on a frost-free day in late fall. Then one cuts off 3-5 cm long segments, which are preferably thick, before immediately covering the roots with soil again.

The segments are freed from adhering residual soil and put horizontally into a planting bowl with potting compost. The soil is then moistened and kept evenly damp until the root formation. After that the root cuttings overwinter at a temperature of about 12 degrees. In spring the rooted young plants can be planted in the garden.


Even though a division is possible in principle, the bleeding heart is extremely sensitive to it. A division is feasible in early spring or directly after the plant dies back into the ground for dormancy. For this purpose the roots are lifted from the ground preferably without causing any damage to them.

The residual soil is carefully shaken off the roots and the rootstock is split into multiple segments with a sharp knife or a spade. Each segment should have at least one sprout and a sufficient number of roots. Immediately after the division the segments are planted at the new site.


In contrast to a propagation by cuttings a propagation by seeds does not produce single-variety plants. The bleeding heart is a cold-germinating plant. Thus the seeds need to be stratified. In other words the seeds are exposed to cold temperatures. This process can take place outdoors or in the refrigerator.

For an exposure to cold temperatures outdoors the seeds are sowed in small seedling pots filled with seeding compost. In winter these pots are put in a sheltered place outdoors. The soil needs to be kept moist during this process.

For a stratification in the fridge the seeds are combined with moist sand and placed into a translucent plastic bag. The bag is then sealed and put into the fridge, for instance into the crisper, where it remains for about 6 weeks.

  • Sow seeds in nursery pots after the stratification
  • Cover the seeds lightly with soil and moisten them
  • Cultivate further in a bright space at a temperature between 12 and 15 degrees
  • Keep the nursery pots in a gradually increasing temperature (up to a maximum of 20 degrees)
  • Reduce the temperature as soon as the first leaves show
  • Plant them out in the garden or in pots during the next springtime


Root rot

Soft and mushy plant components usually indicate root rot, which is caused by too much moisture. Affected plants should be dug out, rotten parts of the plant and root should be removed before the remaining plant is replanted in a dry location. For an improved water outlet a drainage layer made of gravel or grit can be added to the planting hole. If suffering from advanced root rot, the plant is past remedy in most cases.


Warm and dry weather heightens the risk of a plant lice infestation. The most effective method to fight plant lice is the use of beneficial insects such as ichneumonids, ladybugs, hoverflies and lacewings.


Voles can cause the bleeding heart to die back fairly quickly. To protect it from herbivore damage, it is advantageous to plant the shrub in a fine-mesh wire basket.


Dicentra spectabilis Red

It is the purest form of the bleeding heart. The outer petals of the heart-shaped blossoms have a vibrant pinkish color with a white “tear” at the top. Most commonly 8-11 blossoms are arranged in form of a raceme. It blooms from May to June and reaches a height of 60-80 cm.

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’

The pure white blossoms of this strain exude an extraordinary elegance and clearly set themselves apart from the light green leaves. This plant is the “star” in combination with blue flowering plants. It reaches a height of 80-100 cm and blooms from May to June.

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Valentine’

Its blossoms are darker and more vividly colored than those of the pure strain. They are orange-red with a white “tear”. Also this strain blooms from May to June and reaches a growth height of approximately 60 cm.

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