Potted bleeding heart plant

Bleeding Heart Container Growing: A Guide To Bleeding Heart Container Care

Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.) is an old-fashioned plant with heart-shaped blooms that
dangle gracefully from leafless, drooping stems. Bleeding heart, which grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, is a wonderful choice for a semi-shady spot in your garden. Although bleeding heart is a woodland plant, growing bleeding heart in a container is definitely possible. In fact, container-grown bleeding heart will thrive as long as you provide the proper growing conditions.

How to Grow Bleeding Heart in a Pot

A large container is best for bleeding heart container growing, as bleeding heart is a relatively large plant at maturity. If you’re short on space, consider a smaller species such as Dicentra formosa, which tops out at 6 to 20 inches (15-51 cm.).

Fill the container with

a rich, well-drained, lightweight potting mix that mimics the plant’s natural environment. A compost- or peat-based commercial mix works well, but add perlite or sand to ensure the mix drains well.

Mix a balanced, time-released granular fertilizer into the potting mix at planting time. Read the label carefully to determine the optimum amount for the plant and container size.

Bleeding Heart Container Care

Growing bleeding heart in a container does require some upkeep in order to keep the plant looking its best in a potted environment.

Place the container where the bleeding heart plant is exposed to light shade or dappled or partial sunlight.

Water bleeding heart regularly, but allow the surface of the potting mix to dry slightly between waterings. Bleeding heart requires moist, well-drained soil and may rot if conditions are too soggy. Remember that container-grown bleeding heart dries out faster than one planted in the ground.

Fertilize bleeding heart monthly using a diluted water-soluble fertilizer, or apply a controlled release fertilizer according to the schedule indicated on the container. Read the label carefully and avoid over feeding. As a general rule, too little fertilizer is better than too much.

Don’t bother deadheading container-grown bleeding heart plants. Since the plant blooms only once, no deadheading is needed.

Trim the plant lightly when the plant enters dormancy – when the leaves turn yellow and flowering ends – usually in late spring or early summer.

Tips for Growing and Caring for Bleeding Hearts

If you’ve ever seen a shade or woodland garden full of beautiful pink heart shaped flowers and wanted the same blooms for your yard, you’re in luck. Bleeding heart flowers, known as Dicentra species in Latin, are relatively easy to grow if you follow a few important rules.
These specatular looking plants blossom in late spring and early summer, with mounds of green leaves that look a bit like parsley and arching, leafless stalks bearing the “bleeding hearts” that give the plant its name. They can be grown in many places throughout the US, from zones three through nine.

Most bleeding heart bushes grow to about two to three feet tall, although they can be as small as one foot and as large as four. They are perennials, which means that once planted, they will return again year after year on the same spot when properly cared for.

They are fairly disease-free, especially when watered correctly, and bleeding hearts are deer resistant as well. To enjoy this popular species in your garden, read on to learn ten important tips for bleeding heart plant care.

Plant your bleeding heart bush properly

Planting bleeding hearts is largely a matter of selecting the right location in the yard. Other than in very cool areas where they can tolerate a little more sun, bleeding hearts need partial to full shade. They are ideal for those woodsy corners of the yard that might be too dark for other species.

Bleeding hearts also like rich, humus soil. The ground should be well drained but able to stay moist between waterings. If the soil quality is poor where you want to plant a bleeding heart, improve it first with some compost or very weak fertilizer.

Make sure the soil is loose enough to provide proper drainage; it should be loamy, with not too much sand and not too much clay either. The addition of peat moss can help you maintain the right moisture balance. Once you find the perfect spot, plant each bleeding heart approximately two feet apart to allow for adequate root expansion and for adult plant growth.

Give your bleeding heart plant the right amount of water

You might want to call the bleeding heart flower “Goldilocks” because it likes its moisture levels “just right.” If the soil is too dry, the plant won’t flower or the foliage will die off early in the season. If it’s too wet, the roots can rot, causing the entire plant to die.

Ideally, you want want to water your bleeding heart plant several times to get a feel for how long you need to water for the moisture to penetrate to the root level and how long the ground stays moist. Once you figure out your plant’s water needs, put it on a regular watering schedule whenever there is no rain.

Early morning or late afternoon are good times to water, as the moisture won’t evaporate too quickly nor will it pool too long and increase the risk of root rot.

Mulch your bleeding hearts

Mulching is a great way to protect your bleeding heart bushes and enrich the soil at the same time. As the mulch breaks down, it adds nutrients to the soil and feeds the plants. You can mulch your bleeding hearts in both the fall and the spring with compost, leaves or other garden debris.

Maintain your bleeding hearts according to natural seasonal changes

As an herbaceous perennial, the Dicentra species undergoes a series of natural transformations throughout the year. Foliage for the plant will start to appear in early to mid spring, and the plant flowers from late spring through the early summer.

On rare occasions in cool climates, a bleeding heart may flower twice, but in general, this species only blooms once, so there is no need for deadheading, or removing spent blossoms.

Depending on the amount of sun the plant receives and how dry it is, the greenery and stems will start to turn yellow and brown once the flowering period has passed. At this point, you can cut the plant to the ground if it becomes unsightly. If you do nothing, the bleeding heart will usually just die back completely by the end of autumn.

Create more bleeding hearts

While you can grow bleeding hearts from seed or propagate them by root cuttings, the easiest way to create more plants from your existing ones is to divide them periodically, about once every three or four years. Bleeding hearts develop thick roots at the base called “rhizomes.” You can dig up a plant, split the rhizomes with a garden spade or fork and create two or more plants from one.

The best time to do this is in the fall, after the foliage is done. If you have a neighbor with different varieties of bleeding hearts (see below), you can trade split plants to try out each others’ variations.

Add interest with bleeding heart flower varieties

Although pink is the classic color for “King of Hearts” bleeding hearts, there is also a white bleeding heart plant called “Alba.” The two colors look lovely when planted adjacent to each other. White bleeding hearts are also a smart way to brighten up dark corners in the yard.

Another way to brighten the forested or shady parts of the garden is to use the “Golden Heart” bleeding heart flower. This variety has striking yellow-green foliage, which is a nice counterpoint to the more common “King of Hearts.”

Pair your bleeding heart to show it off in your garden

In addition to pairing different types of bleeding hearts to accentuate them, you can select other species that will also showcase your heart shaped flowers. Bleeding hearts look splendid next to ferns and hostas, which also thrive in shady locales. Trillium and astilbe make good companions for bleeding hearts too.

Try to choose neighboring plants that will fill in the space a bit when your bleeding hearts die back later in the season. If you’re left with a gaping hole, you could also fill the space with shade-loving begonias or impatiens. If you’re worried about inadvertently damaging the roots of your bleeding hearts, you can always stick a potted shade plant in their empty space post-bloom.

Mark your bleeding heart spots in the garden

Because bleeding hearts can completely disappear by the end of fall, it can be easy to accidentally dig them up when planting fall bulbs or transplanting other perennials. If you’re worried about doing this, put a marker in your garden where every bleeding heart is rooted, so you’ll remember where it is.

Take care with Dicentra species

As beautiful as the Dicentra species is, it can be deadly, and all parts of the plants are poisonous. Take care to keep kids away from bleeding hearts, and it may be best to plant this flower where your pets can’t get at it either. Keep it out of the part of your yard where your dog romps, and take care to omit it from your horse pastures.

Just touching the plant can be an irritation to humans too, so wear long sleeves and gardening gloves when planting or transplanting bleeding hearts.

Try bleeding hearts in your container garden

If you don’t have a yard, or if ameliorating the soil in your garden isn’t possible, you can still grow bleeding hearts in containers, provided you have sufficient shade. A sheltered balcony, stoop or terrace makes an ideal place to enjoy your bleeding hearts in pots.

While Dicentra spectabilis is the normal garden variety, Dicentra formosa only grows to about twelve inches tall, so it makes the perfect bleeding heart for a container garden.

Dicentra, with its gorgeous heart flowers and delicate foliage is a wonderful addition to many yards. Once you get the hang of how to care for bleeding hearts, you’ll be able to have many thriving plants in your yard, and you can divide and share them at will. Follow the advice above, and you too can enjoy these winning perennial favorites.

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Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra Formosa) are lovely little perennial plants.Today I’ll share a few bleeding heart plant care secrets, so you can grow and enjoy these adorable heart shaped flowers.

The botanical name Dicentra comes from the Greek dis, twice and kentron, a spur. This alludes to the plant’s floral spurs.

Bleeding Hearts are winter hardy perennials which bloom year after year. The distinctive heart-shaped flowers are pink, rose or white.

Bleeding heart species

There are two popular species:

  1. Dicentra Formosa, the Western Bleeding Heart
  2. Dicentra Spectabilis, a more well-known, larger-flowered species from Japan.

Formosa is native to moist woodlands along the U.S. Pacific Coast. It reaches a height of about 16 inches with coarsely divided, rounded leaves. The red and pink flowers look like tiny hearts.

The larger D. Spectabilis can grow to two and a half feet and has red and white blooms. Both species are known as Bleeding Hearts.

Pink Bleeding Hearts Heart Flower Seeds Dicentra Spectabilis Sweet Heart (Heart 01 Mix)Valentine Red Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart flower meaning

Like many other flowers, the bleeding heart flowers have a special meaning. The pink, heart shaped flowers express romantic love, and the white flowers mean purity.

But that’s not all! The reason for the common name is obvious, but the heart-shaped petals hide an intriguing secret.

What could it be?

The stamens, anthers and inner ring of petals form a shape underneath the outer petals almost like a tiny doll in a white petticoat.

As easy to grow as it is interesting and beautiful, Bleeding Heart is an unequaled favorite of many home gardeners.

Bleeding Heart Plant Care Secrets

Bleeding hearts bloom all summer long

The first delicate sprouts appear above the ground in early spring and by July the plants should be in full bloom.

Provided with good rich garden soil bleeding hearts will thrive, especially if there is a little light shade to shield them from the harshest rays of the sun. Both varieties are completely winter hardy.

How to care for bleeding heart


Bleeding heart reappears every year without fail, blooms every spring and summer, withers in fall and remains dormant until the following spring.

It needs no special care and can be used in a flower bed or in boxes or tubs.

Bleeding heart plats can bloom twice

You may be fortunate enough to bring bleeding heart into bloom twice.

As soon and the first crop of blooms begins to show signs of exhaustion, cut the entire plant back. Sprinkle a complete fertilizer on the surrounding soil, and wait.

If winter doesn’t arrive too early you should be able to enjoy a second flowering towards the end of fall.

Cut the stems back when flowering is over. Lift bleeding hearts and replant them every 3 to 4 years. Remove and discard the oldest part of the plant.

Forcing Bleeding Hearts

To force Bleeding Heats into early bloom, start in the fall. Being careful not to damage the roots, move the plants into large pots and place them in a frost-free room. In January, raise the temperature to 60°- 70°F. Blooms should appear within 6 weeks.

Indoor forced plants can be later planted out in the garden or kept indoors in a cool location.

How to propagate bleeding heart plant

Bleeding heart plants are easy to propagate. You can divide bleeding hearts in September/October.

Cuttings are also easy. The best time for taking cuttings is around May 1st. Carefully snap off new shoots and plant them in moist, coarse, porous soil. Cover with glass or plastic. The roots should be strong enough to survive transplanting after only one month.

You can also grow bleeding hearts from seeds, but it will take 6 weeks to three months to germinate. It’s so easy to divide and grow from cuttings, that it’s almost not worth trying to grow it from seed.

How to transplant bleeding heart flowers

If your bleeding heart flowers are not doing well in their current location, and you’d like to move them, wait! Don’t move them in the middle of summer. Wait until late fall when they go dormant, or early spring before they come alive again. this will ensure your plants have the best chance to do well.

In the mean time, if they are in real distress, cut down any leaves that don’t look well and give the plant a bit of fertilizer.

Attention! Bleeding heart plants are poisonous to both people and animals. So, if you have children and pets, you might want to skip growing this plant for now. Learn more about plants that are harmful to people or toxic plants for pets: you’ll be surprised to see some of your favorite flowers on those lists.

Bleeding Heart Pictures

Beautiful pink bleeding heart flower arches, full of flowers. Want to see more beautiful flowers? Fuchsia flowers are gorgeous and easy to grow.

Be still my heart!!!!

What a pretty cluster of Blushing Beauty tulips and bleeding hearts growing in front of a low stone wall.

These white bleeding hearts are pure and beautiful. <3

Beautiful pale pink bleeding heart flowers.

Bleeding heart plant care couldn’t be easier. Plant some (ask a neighbor or a friend to give you a couple cuttings). Mix it up with some contrasting tulips (can you tell I love that combination?) and enjoy the show all summer long.

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How to Grow and Care for the Bleeding Heart Plant in Containers

Intro: Bleeding heart plants have ferny leaves that grow in a basal rosette form, and their dangling heart-shaped flowers bloom on leafless stalks. Their unique pink or white flowers are what give this plant its common name of bleeding heart. Blooms will appear in late spring to early summer and will last for several weeks (after which the foliage will begin to lose some of its attractiveness). Flowers of the old-fashioned bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) look most like hearts, while other flowers can have different shapes. The best bleeding heart plant species for plant containers is the smaller Dicentra formosa, which grows from 9 inches to 1.5 feet tall. Gardeners with shady balcony gardens should try this plant, especially if they have morning sun.

Scientific Name: Dicentra species

Plant Type: Perennial plant

Light: Provide your bleeding heart plant with partial shade and morning sun.

Water: Plant the bleeding heart plant in well-draining potting soil and let it dry out slightly between waterings.

Zone: Zones 3 to 8

Fertilizer: Feed the bleeding heart plant regularly with compost or very weak fertilizers.

Pests and Diseases: If leaf spot appears, cut away the affected leaves. Also do not let it sit in wet soil, as which may cause root rot.

Propagation: Propagate the bleeding heart plant by seed, division or taking cuttings.

Misc. Info: All parts of the bleeding heart plant plant are poisonous. If you have sensitive skin, wear gardening gloves when working with this container plant, as it may be irritating. If your balcony garden gets hot during the summer, you will have a hard time keeping this plant. The bleeding heart can be sensitive to insecticides and fertilizers, so avoid sprays and a lot of nutrient-rich fertilizer. Do not prune or deadhead flowers, since the bleeding heart plant will only bloom once. Trim the foliage back once it begins losing its attractiveness.

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How To Grow Bleeding Hearts

Winter Care

If you live in a place where there’s snow. then there are a few things you should know about caring for this plant during the winter season.

As a perennial, bleeding heart roots will survive the winter. The winter care for this plant begins before winter actually comes. The blossoms will fall, and the foliage yellows and browns, and then the plant is ready to be cut back. You can cut it to an inch or two above ground.

When the cold actually begins to come, cover the small remainder of the plant with mulch. The mulch will help to keep the roots warm throughout the winter and helps give the plant a better chance of surviving through the season.

The most important thing during the cold season is to keep the roots viable.

When their growing season comes again, you’ll see the plant begin to sprout shoots once again, and you’ll soon enjoy their beautiful blossoms.

Varieties of Bleeding Hearts

First, I want to tell you that the bleeding heart plant is actually from the poppy family. It’s native to Siberia, northern China, Korea, and Japan.

The varieties of bleeding hearts make the plants differ in color and bloom time. Bleeding hearts are known by other names as well. Some of these are showy bleeding heart, dutchman’s breeches, chinaman’s breeches, locks and keys, lyre flower, seal flower, or just plain old-fashioned bleeding heart.

Below are a few notes about some of the varieties so you can ensure you pick the perfect one for your garden.

  • Lamprocapnos Spectabilis, Alba – These plants have pure white flowers on them. This plant may bloom again in a cooler autumn.
  • Lamprocapnos Spectabilis, Gold Heart- This variety has pink flowers, and yellow-goldish foliage. A beautiful plant to brighten a darker and shadier garden!
  • Dicentra Eximia, Fringed-leaf bleeding heart- This special variety repeats it’s bloom throughout the summer. It’s most often found on forest floors. They naturalize by self-seeding but are not considered to be aggressive or invasive.
  • Dicentra Formosa, Western Fringed-leaf bleeding heart- This specific variety is more tolerant to lower moisture levels in soil. If you think you may forget to water, this might be the variety to look for. It also has more elaborate flowers. The foliage sports a bright blue-green color.
  • Dicentra Cucullaria, Dutchman’s Breeches- This variety is very similar to the typical bleeding heart but with white flowers.

Can you grow bleeding hearts in a pot?

You can grow this plant in a pot, but you have to make sure that the pot is large enough for it to grow healthily–at least a 2-5 gallon pot. Make sure that the pot is in a place where it misses the intense heat of the sun. For smaller pots, plant a dicentra formosa, which is a smaller bleeding heart.

You can transplant bleeding hearts safely in the fall after the plant has gone dormant. If you miss this time, you’re also able to do it in the spring, but transplant it before the new shoots start to sprout.

Where to start

First off, decide if you’re planting from bulbs or seeds. The bulbs average about $10.00 each and the seeds average about 10 for $7.00. (This is just an average, and all stores differ as do their sales.)

Make sure to find an area of your garden that is shady, or at least partly shady.

Check the moisture level in the soil, as bleeding hearts require moisture. If you’re planting with companion plants, only use companion plants that thrive in a similar part-shade, woodland environment.

Recommended Tips

Bleeding hearts grow best in rich, organic soil, and need to have consistent water.

Ensure the space you have chosen to plant in has at least partial shade. You don’t need to prune them, but they can be trimmed back when the foliage starts to turn ugly.

Another little tip for you is to mulch around the base of the plant to help keep the soil from drying out too fast.

Prepping the garden

Make sure you choose an area of your garden that doesn’t get water-logged. Use compost, and mix it into the soil. Then, plant bulbs half an inch into the soil.

If planting using seeds, then plant 1 inch into the soil.

Water as soon as they are planted, and make watering a priority for taking care of them. Excellent moisture is a must to see the full extent of beauty in these plants!

How to grow, and general care during growing season

If you’re growing the plant in a pot, which is completely fine, you need to make sure it’s large enough and has good drainage.

If you have a garden, and are planting in the ground, plant them about 2 feet apart, and be sure to plant them in the early spring.

Regular fertilization is something you need to do during its growing time. You could also use time-release plant food to help with its growth and health.

Common Problems

There are some common problems that may develop with bleeding hearts that you should be aware of:

  • Root rot is what happens if the soil is kept too wet for too long. Putting a layer of mulch at the base of the plant will help with keeping the soil moist. Check the soil to make sure it’s not getting too wet though.
  • Aphids feed off plants that are stressed and delay the plants growth. A few of these aren’t too bad, but an infestation could weaken or kill the plant.
  • Scale bugs can be another issue for bleeding hearts. These are waxy, tan, or brownish bumps on the stems and leaves of the plant. It’s fairly simple to control both of these pests by using insecticidal soap spray which can be purchased at a store or made at home.
  • Slugs/snails are another common problem. If you notice ragged holes in the leaves of the plant, this is most likely the cause. To get rid of slugs you can go hunt for them at night time (wearing gloves of course). You can also use slug bait which can also be purchased in store. Oh, and they also love beer, and will drown in it if you put a tray or jar out for them.

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