Bleeding Heart/Dicentra Spectabilis
The Bleeding Heart is an attractive herbaceous perennial that emerges from the ground in Spring and dies away by mid Summer. The Japanese Dicentra spectabilis makes a good choice for early colour in a cool, slightly shaded place; as it fades by mid Summer, it can be plunged – with its pot – into a larger container, then removed and replaced by a later-flowering perennial. The Bleeding Heart is a glorious sight, both in leaf and in bloom, and should be added to everyone’s collection of patio plants; in addition, the blooms are good for cutting. The common name arises from the shape of the flowers in bud: they are heart-shaped and rosy red, opening gradually to reveal white inner petals; they hang in groups to 22cm (9in) long. Established plants make vigorous mounds of deeply-incised, feathery foliage, which is much longer lasting if the plant is kept out of direct sun in warmer climes.
This plant is fully frost-hardy: its ultimate size makes it unsuitable for growing in a small container, so it is more tolerant of Winter cold and wet than some patio plants. Excessive heat will reduce flowering time, and the foliage will also suffer.
Grow this plant in light shade: if you live in a cooler part of the UK, it may also be happy in full sun.
Water any containerized plants thoroughly, then allow the surface of theto just dry before the next thorough watering.
This plant needs no extra humidity; the foliage will wilt if it is placed in hot sunshine, but this will not be remedied by misting the foliage.
Plants need no feed if grown in fresh compost each year: established plants can benefit from a general-purpose feed in early Spring, once the new growth emerges.
Grow in a good-quality, free-draining, loam-based compost; repotting will depend on the effect desired. For large plants, divide and repot every 3-4 years. For smaller plants, you can repot every year; the roots are very brittle, so take care when handling them.
Use this plant as a cool-temperature houseplant: pot in Autumn and grow it on in a well-lit place at an optimum of 10°C (50°F). Flowering will occur in early Spring; place outside once the foliage yellows (giving frost protection) and repot the dormant roots ready for the next year.
Aphids: As a succulent-leaved, early-growing plant, Dicentra spectabilis is prone to attack by Aphids; treat infestations as soon as possible.