How To Grow And Care For Bleeding Heart Plant

The bleeding heart plant (Dicentra spectabilis) is a perennial flowering plant that is native to Asia. It is also known by other common names such as “Dutchman’s breeches” and “Lady in the bath.” The plant gets its name from the distinctive heart-shaped flowers that hang from the stems and appear to be “bleeding” drops of white or pink. In this article we will explore detail about how to grow and care for bleeding heart plant.

Bleeding heart plants prefer moist, well-drained soil and partial shade, and they can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 3-9. They are relatively easy to grow and require little maintenance once established. However, it is important to note that all parts of the plant are toxic if ingested, so it should be kept away from children and pets.

Plant Description

The bleeding heart plant (Dicentra spectabilis) is a beautiful and delicate perennial plant that is known for its unique heart-shaped flowers that hang from arching stems. The plant typically grows to a height of 2-3 feet and has a spread of 1-2 feet.

The leaves of the bleeding heart plant are light green in color and are finely divided and fern-like in appearance. The leaves are typically 2-3 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. The stems of the plant are slender and arching, and they typically bear clusters of 4-12 flowers.

The flowers of the bleeding heart plant are the most distinctive feature of the plant. They are heart-shaped, and they are typically 1 inch long and wide. Flowers are borne on arching stems, and they hang down like drops of blood, giving the plant its common name.

Bleeding heart plant are typically pink or white, although there are cultivars that have red or yellow flowers. The flowers bloom in late spring to early summer and last for several weeks.

Overall, the bleeding heart plant is a beautiful and unique addition to any garden, and its delicate appearance belies its hardiness and ease of care.

Grow And Care

Here are some tips for caring for a bleeding heart plant:

  • Soil and Sunlight:

The bleeding heart plant prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. It can tolerate some morning sun, but it is best to avoid planting it in areas that receive full afternoon sun, as this can cause the plant to wilt.

  • Watering:

The bleeding heart plant requires regular watering to keep the soil moist. However, it is important not to overwater, as this can cause root rot. A good rule of thumb is to water the plant deeply once a week, and more frequently during hot, dry weather.

  • Fertilizer:

The bleeding heart plant does not require a lot of fertilizer, but it can benefit from an application of a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring.

  • Pruning:

The bleeding heart plant should be pruned back after the flowers have faded to promote new growth and keep the plant looking tidy. Deadheading the flowers as they fade can also help to prolong the blooming period.

  • Winter care:

In areas with harsh winters, it is important to protect the bleeding heart plant from freezing temperatures. You can cover the plant with a layer of mulch in the fall to help insulate the roots and prevent frost damage.


Bleeding heart plants can be propagated through division or by taking stem cuttings. Here are the steps for each method:

  • Division: To propagate a bleeding heart plant by division, dig up the plant in early spring before it begins to grow. Carefully separate the clump into several smaller plants, making sure that each division has a healthy root system. Replant the divisions in a new location, keeping the soil moist until they are established.
  • Stem cuttings: To propagate a bleeding heart plant by stem cuttings, take a cutting from a healthy, established plant in early summer. Use a clean, sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears to cut a 4-6 inch stem just below a node. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem, and dip the cut end in rooting hormone. Plant the cutting in moist, well-drained soil, and cover with a plastic bag to create a humid environment. Keep the soil moist and place the cutting in a shaded area. After 4-6 weeks, the cutting should have rooted and can be transplanted to a new location.

Propagation is a great way to expand your bleeding heart plant collection or share it with friends and family. With a little patience and care, you can successfully propagate this beautiful and unique plant.

Common Diseases And Pests

Bleeding heart plants can be susceptible to a few common diseases and pests. Here are some of the most common issues you may encounter:

  • Powdery mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white, powdery coating on the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant. To prevent powdery mildew, make sure to plant the bleeding heart in an area with good air circulation and avoid overhead watering.
  • Leaf spot: Leaf spot is a fungal disease that causes dark spots on the leaves of the plant. To prevent leaf spot, avoid overhead watering and make sure to remove any diseased foliage.
  • Slugs and snails: These pests can feed on the leaves and flowers of the plant, leaving holes and damage. To prevent slug and snail damage, use a natural slug bait or handpick the pests.
  • Aphids: These small insects can feed on the sap of the plant, causing distortion and yellowing of the leaves. To prevent aphids, use a strong jet of water to knock them off the plant or use an insecticidal soap.
  • Spider mites: These tiny pests can cause yellowing and stippling of the leaves. To prevent spider mites, make sure to keep the plant well-watered and avoid dry conditions.

Are bleeding hearts poisonous to touch?

While Bleeding Heart plants are not generally considered toxic, the sap and foliage of the plant can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in some people. Direct contact with the plant can cause redness, itching, and rashes on the skin. It is always a good idea to wear gloves when handling any plant to avoid skin irritation and to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the plant. If you have concerns about skin sensitivity, you should avoid contact with the plant altogether. Additionally, the plant is considered toxic to dogs and cats if ingested in large amounts, so it is best to keep pets away from the plant. Happy gardening….

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