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Bleeding Heart Plant Care Guide

Bleeding Heart

purpleBleeding heart has attractive mounded foliage with arching stems of delicate, heart-shaped flowers in spring. It thrives in moist woodland gardens along with ferns and other shade-lovers.

About This Plant

Bleeding heart grows best in cool, moist conditions. Flower colors include yellow, pink, red, and white. It blooms in spring and may rebloom sporadically throughout the summer in cool areas. Height ranges from 6 inches to 2 feet, depending on variety.

Site Selection

Select a site with light to medium shade and well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.

Care

Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. After the first killing frost, cut stems back to an inch or two above soil line.
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Hearts or Ladies; Depends on Where You Live
Bleeding HeartsGrown in gardens on both sides of the Atlantic for generations, Bleeding Hearts, or Lady in the Bath as they are know across the pond, are the epitome of grace. The deeply cut foliage frames strings of finely formed blossoms like little garden twinkle lights.

These are the quintessential cottage garden flowers – in deep pink or sparkling white – and it’s hard to image gardening without them. Try a few, you’ll agree.

Outdoor Beds

  1. Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2-3″ to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Bleeding hearts prefer soil with average moisture and will not thrive in water logged sites.
  2. Site your bleeding hearts where they will receive light to moderate shade. Pink bleeding hearts can manage full sun in fairly moist – not wet – humus rich soil in northern locations, but need some shade in other regions. White flowering bleeding hearts prefer shade everywhere.
  3. Your bleeding hearts will be shipped “bareroot.” This just means that the soil has been washed from the roots, so you won’t risk introducing any soil-borne diseases into your garden, and the plants are lighter and cleaner to ship. Dormant bareroot plants are easy to handle and settle in quickly. Tuck your bleeding heart plants into the ground with the roots pointing downwards and the “eyes” or growing points about an inch below soil level. Fan the roots out a little so they can access soil nutrients from a wider area. Space plants about 2-2.5 feet apart to allow room for their mature size.
  4. After planting, water the bleeding hearts well, gently soaking the soil to settle it around the roots. Strong roots and sprouts form quickly. Bleeding hearts flower in spring and take an average of 3-4 seasons to fill out to mature flowering clumps. They then bloom every spring for years.
  5. When in bloom, feel free to cut a few stems for arrangements. Mix with ferns and newly unfurled hosta leaves for perfect spring bouquets. Cutting a few stems will not hurt established plants.
  6. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don’t cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the plant for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1″ of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  7. In mid summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage many be cut and removed at this point. Your bleeding hearts will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle the following spring.
  8. Bleeding heart plants grow larger over time eventually developing into big clumps. These clumps can be divided by slicing them in half vertically with a sharp shovel and the pieces may be replanted or shared with gardening friends. Plants usually reach mature size by the third or fourth year.

Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns

  1. Select large containers, keeping in mind the mature size of three to four year old bleeding hearts. Fill your containers with well-drained, humus rich potting soil. Add peat moss or perlite to improve drainage, if needed. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes in your pots; bleeding hearts must not sit in waterlogged soil.
  2. Site your plants where they will receive light to moderate shade. Pink bleeding hearts can manage full sun in consistently moist (not wet) humus rich soil in northern locations where the sun is less strong, but need a little shade elsewhere. White bleeding hearts prefer shade everywhere.
  3. Your bleeding hearts will be shipped “bareroot.” This just means that the soil has been washed from the roots, so you won’t risk introducing any soil-borne diseases into your garden, and the plants are lighter and cleaner to ship. Dormant bareroot plants are easy to handle and settle in quickly. Tuck your bleeding heart plants into the ground with the roots pointing downwards and the “eyes” or growing points about an inch below soil level. Fan the roots out a little so they can access soil nutrients from a wider area. Space plants about 12-14″ apart to create a full display at maturity.
  4. After planting, water the bleeding hearts well, gently soaking the soil to settle it around the roots.
  5. When in bloom, feel free to cut a few stems for arrangements. Mix with ferns, irises and newly unfurled hosta leaves for perfect spring bouquets. Cutting a few stems will not hurt established plants.
  6. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don’t cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the plant for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1″ of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  7. In mid summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage many be cut and removed at this point. Your bleeding hearts will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle the following spring.
  8. Tip: bleeding hearts slip into dormancy in mid summer. Planting with later season bloomers like astilbes and hostas allow for dual use of the same garden space, and avoid having holes in your landscaping in July and August.

 

 

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