Bleeding Hearts

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I am amazed at the variety of shapes and colors of flowers, and I find the shape of Bleeding Hearts especially intriguing. This non-native one (Dicentra spectabilis) brings back many fond memories of my grandmother and her delightful flower garden. The plants get 2-3 feet tall, and the dangling blossoms on arching stems remind me of a charm bracelet. The flowers appear in April and May, and the attractive foliage dies back in mid-summer.

Non-native Bleeding Heart flowers

Wild or Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia) is native to much of the Eastern U.S., and is much shorter (about 15 inches). It also has attractive heart-shaped blossoms, and can grow in shade or sun. However, its fern-like foliage is attractive throughout the growing season, and if I remember to deadhead (remove the old blossoms) it will bloom throughout the summer.

Native Bleeding Heart in bloom

A close-up reveals the beauty of the individual flowers.

Close-up of native Wild or Fringed Bleeding Heart flowers

I enjoy both of these plants. Although they are similar, their differences add variety to the backyard. The Wild Bleeding Heart is more versatile and provides interest throughout the summer. I plan to plant more of it.

8 thoughts on “Bleeding Hearts”

  1. Betty– such lovely photos of a charming, old-fashioned flower! I have some blooming in my yard, too—though I’ve not tried the fringed one. I’ve read that another nickname for this plant is “lady in a bathtub” (which is what you see when you turn a bloom upside down). Bleeding hearts also make good cut flowers, complimented by their pretty foliage. I used to have one of the WHITE ones (Dicentra spectabilis alba), which the White Flower Farm catalog says is “about as accurate as calling an ermine a white weasel.” The white version has its own special elegance.

    1. Patsy, thanks for your comments. ‘Charming, old-fashioned flower’ is a great way to describe the non-native bleeding heart. I’ve never tried it as a cut flower and can imagine it would be beautiful. I have made a miniature bouquet with the native variety and it worked quite well.

  2. Oh Betty, i really like these delightful little perennials, once a feature in our garden,but i think the frost killed them off! I would love to grow the Fringed Bleeding Heart, it has such a delicate flower, and looks beautiful in your photograph.

    1. Pauline, we are quite fortunate to have a wide variety of native flowers which appear delicate and somewhat fragile but in reality are quite hardy. I’d be interested to know more about the native plants of Jersey Island.

  3. So glad to be back on your blog Betty.
    Are these beauties in your garden already? We only see shy tiny green specks of leaves coming through the earth now. How late is this!!!

    1. Yes, Louise, these photos were taken within the past week. I understand that spring advances 15 miles a day. Not sure how many miles there are between us in Kentucky and you in Ontario but I’m hoping you can see encouraging signs soon.

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