Bleeding Hearts

Plants for shade_Bleeding Heart .png

I bought my first Dicentra spectabilis, Bleeding Heart, at a Home Depot in Chicago a few years ago. It was the middle of summer and the plants weren’t looking so great, so they were discounted. I planted it and it looked like it died soon after but I didn’t feel too bad since the plant only cost me a couple of dollars.

Imagine my surprise when the following spring I saw the plant emerge and bloom. I didn’t have any experience with  Dicentras previous to my purchasing this one. I learned that the plant goes dormant during the dog days of summer. Mine lives below a tree and only gets sun in the early morning and late in the evening. My Bleeding Heart plant begins to bloom at the beginning of May and continues to bloom until it gets too hot and it goes dormant. As each individual flower is spent, I pluck it off to encourage more blooms. The heart-shaped flowers make good cut flowers– so take a few cuttings (including the stem) to display inside where you can see them up close.

This is a good plant for a spot in your garden that only gets part sun and something a lot more interesting than another row of hostas. Don’t get me wrong, hostas are nice and they have pretty flowers but walking around tree-lined neighborhoods in Chicago it gets boring seeing the same shady plants house after house.
Over on the Chicago Garden flickr pool Bintie has posted a picture of her pink Bleeding Hearts.


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  • My Dicentra's are in deep shade and never go dormant which is nice because the golden one really lights up the garden with it's foliage alone and Luxurient blooms all summer long!

  • Beautiful! I got a white one at the Paseo Prairie Garden plant sale last month. Looks like it's going dormant, but I wonder if I should move it to the shadier backyard?

  • In reply to hawk3ye:

    If it is going dormant better let it do what it needs to do. Next year you can move it in the spring when you notice it start to send up shoots.

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