Traditional, old fashioned, shade loving cottage garden plants. Ideal as ground cover under deciduous trees or in a woodland garden. Dicentra spectablis, now reclassified as Lamprocapnos spectablis, (see image) is the most common form grown in UK gardens.
Family: Papaveraceae (poppy)
Botanical Name: Dicentra (Lamprocapnos)
Common Names: Bleeding heart, Dutchman's Breeches, Lyre Flower, Lady in the Bath.
Foliage: Deciduous, mid-green, deeply cut, ferny foliage.
Flowers: Racemes of heart shaped, pendant flowers. In shades of white or pink (depending on variety).
Flowering Period: Spring.
Soil: Moist fertile, humus-rich soil (chalk, clay or loam). Alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Partial shade. Plant in a north, east or west aspect, in a sheltered possition.
Habit: Clump forming.
Type: Herbaceous perennial.
Origin: Asia (China, Korea, Japan) and North America.
Hardiness: Most varieties are fully hardy in the UK.
Toxicity: Toxic if eaten. May cause skin irritation.
Best grown in partial or dappled shade. Thrives in a well drained, humus rich, moisture-retentive soil.
Plant from autumn to early spring, in a sheltered shaded location, at the front of the border or under deciduous trees or tall shrubs.
Mulch with organic matter, once flowers have finished.
Generally disease free. Slugs and snails can attack young shoots and leaves.
Increase by division once the plant is dormant. Alternatively, propagate by root cuttings in winter or sow seed when ripe.
Dicentra eximia (USA) is a rhizomatous
creeping plant with finely cut leaves and arrow
flowers. The form 'Alba' has white blooms. Height to 1ft (30cm), spread to 2ft (60cm).
Dicentra formosa (USA) is similar to D. eximia, but the flower clusters are larger and the petal tips are reflexed. Good cultivars include 'Spring Morning' (grey green leaves and pale-pink flowers), 'Pearl Drops' (white blooms) and 'Luxuriant' (green leaves and bright red flowers).
Dicentra spectablis (now reclassified as Lamprocapnos spectablis) an elegant plant with clouds of grey/green, coarsely dissected leaves. The heart-shaped flowers are borne on arching stems of pink and white, in late spring and summer. Height to 48in (120cm), spread to 1.5ft (45cm). Good cultivars include: 'Alba' with pure white dainty flowers. Available at Van Meuwen. 'Valentine' is another delightful form with scarlet heart-shaped flowers, dripping a teardrop of red. Available at Van Meuwen.