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Bleeding heart - Dicentra

Dicentra

Dicentra is a pretty garden perennial that is very adaptable and has an exceptionally long flowering period from May to September. Whether in a natural garden or as a permanent graveyard plant, the dwarf varieties (Dicentra eximia, Dicentra formosa) score with their fern-like leaves, delicate flowers in white or pink tones on long stems and their wild perennial character. Another plus point is their robustness and longevity: they thrive both in the sun and partial shade, tolerate the root pressure of large trees as well as slightly acidic soil conditions so that they can also be used as an underplanting for rhododendrons or garden azaleas.

The filigree, heart-shaped flowers can form decorative carpets over the years. The smaller representatives are therefore suitable as ground cover, especially on the edge of shrubs. But they also come into their own in pots of all kinds when placed on a balcony or terrace.

The big sister of the heart flower, the bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis or Lamprocapnos spectabilis), is a spring bloomer and enchants every lover of nostalgic plantings. Its heart-shaped flowers, which sit on overhanging branches, radiate a special elegance and look particularly beautiful against dark backgrounds. This perennial is considered the symbol of lovers - however, as the name "Marienherz" suggests, Dicentra spectabilis is also highly valued as a traditional plant for graves.

A Bleeding Heart Can Be Found in Every Garden

These flowers are not just typical cottage garden plants but they can be used in many planting concepts. They like to join grasses and various leafy shrubs. The columbine emphasises the romantic note of the bleeding heart. The peony, Lychnis chalcedonica, Hosta and Heucherella are also beautiful planting partners. Since the bleeding heart dies back very early in the year after flowering, it should be planted with companions that will fill the gap if possible. For example, ferns and perennials such as the elegant bugbane (Cimicifuga) or forest asters are suitable. The light green, pretty foliage also goes well with the blue flowers of forget-me-not.

If dwarf types are planted with bergenias or Caucasus forget-me-nots you can enjoy a colourful, blooming carpet of flowers in the spring.

Take a look at our Lubera® range: white and pink varieties can be combined perfectly! These delicate beauties can also be used for vases. Here are a few recommendations:

• The pure white flowering bleeding heart variety 'Alba' fits wonderfully in dreamy gardens. The bright, fresh shoots come into their own in the spring, especially in partially shaded areas.

• The magnificent variety ‘Valentine’ impresses with its cherry-red, heart-shaped flowers. It keeps its leaves a little longer after flowering than other representatives.

• The dark pink blooming dwarf type 'Luxuriant' is about 40 centimetres tall and has beautiful, fern-like, grey-green foliage.

   
 
Dicentra eximia

Wild bleeding heart

From £4.40 *

Dicentra spectabilis

Bleeding heart

From £4.40 *

Dicentra spectabilis 'Valentine' (S)

Bleeding heart 'Valentine' (S)

From £9.90 *

   
 
Dicentra

Buying – Worth Knowing

Of the approximately 15 species of this genus, two are interesting for the garden. These are Dicentra eximia and Dicentra formosa, both of which come from North America. They belong to the poppy family (Papaveraceae).

• D. formosa has its natural sites in the west of the North American continent, where the plants can be found from British Columbia to California. It grows to between 15 and 30 centimetres high and blooms from June to autumn. The species has delicate pink flowers.

• D. eximia reaches a height of 35 centimetres and has fine, pinnate leaves. The flowering period extends from May to September. Their heart-shaped flowers are dark red and are clustered together.

• The bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis or Lamprocapnos spectabilis) occurs in Asia in light, damp mountain foliage forests. In the past, its botanical generic name was Dicentra, now it has the generic name Lamprocapnos - in contrast, the name Dicentra is still very common in the horticultural sector. The striking perennial grows to a height of approximately 80 centimetres and a width of up to 60 centimetres, and its heart-shaped flowers appear on arched shoots.

All types die back after flowering. One should know that the plants are poisonous due to their alkaloid content. The plant sap can be irritating to the skin and mucous membrane.

By the way: if you open the heart-shaped petals in a playful way, a figure appears, which is known as the “maiden in the bath”.

Location

These plants like a sunny to partially shaded location and a fresh to moderately moist soil that should be rich in nutrients. A slightly acid soil is well tolerated. Heavy clay soils or waterlogging should be avoided. If the location turns out to be sunny, care should be taken to ensure sufficient soil moisture.

Planting

It is best to plant this perennial in the spring so that it can establish ifself well in the winter. However, autumn planting is also possible. When planting, do not plant it too deeply, otherwise, it may not bloom. When planting, mix some compost under the substrate.

The dwarf types are best seen in the group. Plant them in small tufts with about 3 - 10 plants. The planting distance should be about 30 centimetres.

Maintenance

These plants are very easy to care for and durable; only the dead parts of the plant need to be removed for visual reasons. The soil substrate should be enriched with compost every two year and liquid fertiliser is recommended when the plant is grown in a pot or container. A good supply of nutrients and regular watering can delay the retraction of the perennials a little.

Winter Protection

These flowers are hardy. A bleeding heart in a pot or container should be overwintered in a frost-free location. Alternatively, the pot can be well protected and insulated.

Divide

If the bleeding heart has grown too large, it can be divided after flowering.

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