bleeding heart (syn. Dicentra spectabilis)
- Position: full sun or partial shade
- Soil: moist, humus-rich, preferably neutral to slightly alkaline
- Rate of growth: average
- Flowering period: April to May
- Hardiness: fully hardy
Arching sprays of dainty, rose-pink, heart-shaped flowers appear in late spring above fern-like, fresh green leaves. Easy to grow, it looks fabulous planted in groups towards the front of a shady border or as part of a cottage garden scheme. As long as the ground is kept moist, it will thrive in full sun or partial shade. It is one of the earliest perennials into flower, but the foliage does start to die back after flowering, so it is best mixed amongst summer flowers, which can then maintain interest in the border.
Dicentras are northern hemisphere plants, growing from Asia to North America. In their natural habitat they are found in moist soils in the cool margins of woodlands. This dicentra was first introduced in 1816, then disappeared from cultivation but was reintroduced by plant collector Robert Fortune in 1846. It soon became one of the most popular garden plants.
- Garden care: Dicentras are happy in any good garden soil that is fertile but not too heavy. Enrich the soil with plenty of leaf mould before planting and apply a mulch in autumn too. A light fertilising in March will help enormously.