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Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra)

Dicentra bleeding hearts are known for their unique heart-shaped flowers that hang in a row on arching stems, resembling strings of pink, red, or white hearts, with a protruding inner petal that resembles a "drop of blood," giving them their name. Their graceful foliage gives the plant an elegant appearance even when not in bloom and adds a touch of charm to any landscape.

An herbaceous perennial plant, they grow from rhizomes and emerge in the spring. Bleeding hearts are excellent additions to shaded garden beds, woodland gardens, or along the edges of borders.

Note that bleeding hearts contain alkaloids that can be toxic if ingested, so they should be planted away from areas frequented by pets or small children. In sensitive individuals, they may cause some skin irritation.

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  • Soil and Watering: These plants thrive in well-draining, rich soil with consistent moisture. Regular watering is necessary, especially during dry spells. Mulching around the base of the plant helps retain soil moisture.
  • Maintenance: Dicentra bleeding hearts may benefit from deadheading spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming. They may also benefit from division every few years to rejuvenate the plant and prevent overcrowding.
  • Light Requirements: Dicentra bleeding hearts prefer partial to full shade, especially in warmer climates like Zone 8. They can tolerate some morning sun but generally perform best with dappled sunlight or shade.
  • Hardiness: Dicentra bleeding hearts are typically hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 9, which includes Zone 8. They are well-suited for temperate climates and can withstand cold winters.
  • Propagation: These plants can be propagated through division or by seeds. Division is typically done in spring or fall when the plant is not actively flowering. Seeds can be collected from mature plants and sown in containers or directly in the garden.