DICENTRA Bleeding Heart

Dicentra has collected many common names during its long history as a cottage garden plant. It flourishes in humus-rich soil under tall shrubs and trees, the arching stems above the ferny leaves bearing curiously-shaped flowers which give rise to the popular names such as Dutchman’s Breeches and Lady in the Bath. Choose a sheltered spot at the front of the border or plant them to provide ground cover in a woodland garden. Applying a mulch each May is the only treatment required by this easy-to-grow old favourite.

VARIETIES: The most popular Dicentra is the largest – D. spectabilis. The basic details are height 2-3 ft. Spacing 1.5 ft. (lowering period May-June. The rosy red, locket-like flowers bear protruding white petals and hang from the arching stems. This species is not always the best choice – it dies down after flowering and can be damaged by spring frosts. These faults are not shared by the smaller feathery-leaved species – D. formosa (1-1.5 ft) andD. Eximia (1.5 ft).

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained garden soil will do – thrives best in light shade.

PROPAGATION: Divide clumps in autumn or spring – be careful not to break the brittle roots.

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