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Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) Planting Guide


Bleeding Hearts, also known as Dicentra, are shade-loving perennials with an undeniably romantic nature. Native to Eastern Asia and North America, these beauties produce dangling heart-shaped blossoms that are highly resistant to deer, super attractive to pollinators, and exceptionally cold-hardy. Learn more about how to plant, grow, and maintain these dreamy darlings with this guide!

Success Snapshot

PLANTING
DEPTH

Crown 1/2 - 1" Below Soil Line

WATER
QUANTITY

Moderate

SUNLIGHT
QUANTITY

Partial to Full Shade

PLANTING
PROXIMITY

Species dependent; 18-30"

BLOOM
SEASON

Late Spring - Summer

HARDINESS
ZONES

Most are Zones 4-9

Where to Plant

These beauties thrive in locations where the soil drains well, and they will receive light to moderate shade. In northern areas, pink Bleeding Hearts can manage full sun in consistently moist (but not wet), humus-rich soil, but they fancy a little shade elsewhere. On the other hand, white flowering types prefer shade everywhere. If you notice puddles of water 5–6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site or amend the soil with organic material to raise the level 2–3 inches. These plants are great for containers or outdoor plantings but will not thrive in soggy soil or standing water.


When to Plant

Bleeding Hearts should be planted in early spring after the danger of frost has passed and while they're still resting in dormancy. Dormant bare-root plants are super easy to handle and tend to settle in quickly. You can expect strong roots to form in the fall, with sprouts and flowers emerging in the spring.


How to Plant

  • For outdoor landscape planting, find a spot where the soil drains well, and your Bleeding Hearts will receive light to moderate shade. Dig holes 2 to 2.5' apart and tuck your plants into the ground with the roots pointing downwards and the "eyes" or growing points about an inch below soil level. Fill in the surrounding soil and firmly pat down around the plants.
  • For container planting, start with well-draining, humus-rich potting soil and containers with adequate drainage holes that are large enough to accommodate the mature size of your plants. Dig holes 18" apart and tuck your plants in with the roots pointing downwards and the "eyes" or growing points about an inch below soil level. Fill in the surrounding soil and firmly pat down around the plants.
  • Water thoroughly after planting, soaking the soil to settle it around the roots.

How to Grow

  • Water as needed during active growth periods, supplying about 1" of moisture per week.
  • Leave the foliage in place after blooming has finished for the season. The leaves will gather sunlight to create food through photosynthesis, strengthening the plant for the future.
  • Remove the dry foliage when the leaves turn yellow and die back around mid-summer.
  • Allow your Dicentra plants to rest for a few months in dormancy before beginning the next growing cycle in early spring.

Bleeding Hearts Tips & Tricks

  • Pair your Bleeding Hearts with other shade-loving plants, such as Hostas, Astilbes, or Ferns.
  • Amend the soil with ground bark, decomposed manure, or compost to improve drainage and encourage a healthy start.
  • Expect your Bleeding Hearts to arrive bare-root, meaning the soil has been washed from the roots to reduce the risk of introducing soil-borne diseases into your garden.
  • Fan out the roots a bit when planting so they can access soil nutrients from a wider area.
  • Feel free to cut a few stems when in bloom for arrangements, as doing so will not hurt established plants.
  • Mix your Bleeding Hearts with Ferns and newly unfurled Hosta leaves for stunning spring bouquets.
  • Divide the growing clumps by slicing them in half vertically with a sharp shovel and either replant the pieces or share them with friends.
  • Bear in mind that these plants typically reach their mature size by the third or fourth year.