One of my favorite spring flowering plants is in full bloom right now — Dicentra spectabilis, AKA old fashioned bleeding heart. (Note: Kate mentions in the comments that the name has recently been changed from Dicentra spectabilis to Lamprocapnos spectabilis — I love it when botanists change the name on me, don’t you? Thanks, Kate!)
Each year, we get more blooms on our bleeding hearts, and I’m hoping to add at least a couple more to the front garden, which is on the north side of our house, and in the shade of a large (ugly) birch tree. A few quick tips for growing bleeding heart:
1. They will die back once the weather turns hot and dry. The foliage will yellow, and eventually turn brown. This is normal, and the plant will come back beautifully in the spring. Cut off the dead foliage and plant some annuals to fill in the bare spot in the garden.
2. You can extend the time before the foliage dies back by making sure the soil is moist and mulched. They should be grown in part sun to full shade.
3. Bleeding hearts will set seed before dying back. The seeds are tiny, shiny, and black. They should be collected and planted immediately if you want to grow bleeding hearts from seed — fresh seed germinates much better than seed that has been stored.
4. Some good partners for bleeding hearts: hostas, ferns, heart-leaf brunnera, astilbe, and lungwort.
While Dicentra spectabilis is the most commonly grown bleeding heart, there are other options out there that are a little more heat-tolerant. Dicentra eximia, or fringed bleeding heart, will have a few bloom periods from spring through fall as long as the temperatures don’t stay too hot for long periods of time.