How to Grow a Bleeding Heart Plant & Care Guide

Blooms of the bleeding heart plant (Dicentra spectabilis) appear in early spring adorning the garden with attention-getting, heart-shaped flowers borne on arching stems.

After a long period of dormancy, the plant’s attractive bluish-green foliage emerges first.

Bleeding heart flowers can be pink and white or all white, as in the case of the bleeding heart cultivar ‘Alba,’ which has white flowers.

How to Grow Bleeding Hearts

Regular watering is an important part of bleeding heart plant care.

A shady or partially shady location with organic soil is best for growing bleeding heart plants.

Before putting in the bleeding heart plant, prepare the soil by adding compost to the area.

Organic mulch breaks down over time to supply nutrients and helps retain moisture.

Bleeding hearts do best in a cool, shady location in the southern hemisphere, but further north, they can thrive in full sun.

The bleeding heart plant, a herbaceous perennial, dies back to the ground in the summer heat.

As the plant begins to yellow and wither away, foliage may be cut back to the ground as a part of care for bleeding hearts.

Do not remove the foliage before it turns yellow or brown; this is the time when your bleeding heart plant is storing food reserves for next year’s growing bleeding hearts.

Regular fertilization of the growing plant is an important part of caring for bleeding heart flowers properly.

Time-release plant food and/or additional compost can be worked into the soil around the plant once the foliage emerges in the spring.

This is an important step in growing bleeding hearts, as it encourages more and longer-lasting blooms.

Many people are taken aback by how simple it is to grow bleeding hearts.

Using bleeding hearts as a means of illuminating shady or dark areas is a great idea once you’ve learned how to do it!

The best way to increase the number of plants in your garden is to divide clumps on a regular basis, rather than relying on seeds from bleeding hearts.

Carefully dig up the roots of the bleeding heart, remove roots that are dried up, and divide the rest.

Plant these into other areas of the garden for an early spring show.


There is no need to prune or deadhead this plant because it may bloom later in the season. Leave the flowers if you want them to go to seed.

The foliage should be cut back when it begins to brown and look unattractive. It is possible to shear back ragged-looking fringed-leaf varieties to their basal growth and have them re-leaf and re-bloom.

Propagating Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart is usually planted from nursery seedlings, but you can propagate bleeding heart from seeds, clump division, or stem cuttings.

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Spring to early summer is the prime time for cutting propagation. If you are starting from seeds in the garden, sow them in the fall.

Older plants that have fewer flowers can be revived through propagation. Here’s how to propagate bleeding hearts:

Propagation by division: Bleeding heart plants’ root clumps can be easily divided. To avoid sacrificing bloom, wait until after flowering has finished before dividing. When the fringed-leaf varieties first emerge in the spring, they can be easily divided.

  1. You’ll need a shovel or trowel if the plant is in the ground. You’ll also need a sterilised, sharp knife and a flat surface for this task. You’ll need a pot and potting soil if you plan to grow your plants in a container.
  2. Pull up the root ball by digging a circle around the root crown. The roots spread out in all directions. Cut through the roots without fear.
  3. The root crown should be examined. Look for growths that are pink in colour. Leave at least one bud in each section of the root ball (two to three buds per section is better).
  4. Incorporate compost, leaf mould, or decomposing leaves into the potting mix before replanting the root ball. Keep the soil moist but not soggy by saturating it thoroughly with water.

Propagation by cuttings: Bleeding heart can also be started by cuttings rooted in a growing medium. It can take 10 days to three weeks before rooting occurs.

  1. Pruning a healthy bleeding heart plant will necessitate the use of sterilised pruners. Additionally, you’ll need a container, well-drained potting soil, and a plastic bag. Rooting hormones are an option if you’d like to improve your success rate with germination.
  2. Remove the leaves from the stem’s lower half. Make a hole in the centre of the container with your finger and fill it with potting soil. Rooting hormone can be applied to the cut end of the cutting and inserted into the hole. Place the potting mix around the stem firmly but gently.
  3. Soak the soil just enough to keep it moist, but not drenched. Wrap the cutting in a clear plastic bag, but not directly on the plant. Poke a hole in the plastic if condensation forms on the inside of the bag.
  4. Provide filtered light for the plant. The plant will be scorched if placed on a sunny windowsill.
  5. You’ll know the plant has taken root when you see new leaves or stems appearing. Be sure to get rid of that bag.
  6. Once the bleeding heart plant’s roots are established and new growth is abundant, it’s time to move it outside. Before relocating the plants to their permanent location outside, allow them to harden off for a few days in a protected location.

How to Grow Bleeding Hearts From Seed

Place the seeds in a pot of soil to start them indoors. Freeze it for 6 to 8 weeks in a plastic bag before serving.

Remove the plant from its container and gradually reintroduce it to a brighter, warmer light.

Seeds will germinate and sprout as a result of a change in temperature and exposure to sunlight.

Even though bleeding hearts are not invasive in the garden, they do tend to self-seed.

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Carefully digging up and transplanting the seedlings is possible.

Potting and Repotting Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding hearts can thrive in containers, but only if the right conditions exist. At least a 12-inch pot should be used when potting it.

They can grow to more than three feet in height. Before being divided and replanted, a bleeding heart can grow for four to five years in a large container.

Make sure the potting soil you use drains well and is rich in nutrients.

You can use ceramic or plastic pots, but make sure they have enough drainage holes so that the roots don’t sit in waterlogged soil.

You’ll need at least 2 to 3 inches of room around the root ball and below when you repot it.

The bottom of the pot should be at least 2 inches deep with new soil.

Place the root ball in the middle of the soil and fill in the rest of its perimeter.

Keep the plant in a shady or partially lit area and water it thoroughly.


During the winter months, a person’s heartbeat naturally slows down.

Even if the plant appears to be dead above ground, the rhizome or root ball will survive the cold winter.

The stems can be trimmed to a height of one to two inches from the ground.

Keep watering the soil until the first frost comes, then stop.

Mulch the plant stems with a two-inch layer at the start of the winter season to protect the roots and help them retain moisture.

When the cold weather has passed, it’s time to remove the mulch.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Aphids, scales, slugs, and snails are the plant’s most common pests. Insecticidal soap or neem oil is the quickest and least invasive way to get rid of aphids and scale.

A bucket of soapy water is the best way to get rid of snails and slugs, and they are easiest to find at night and in the early hours of the morning.

As a shady plant, bleeding hearts are susceptible to diseases like root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf spot, all of which are caused by fungal infections like those found in soggy soil.

Fungicides can be applied to plants by following the directions on the label. Infected plants can spread disease if they turn black and emit a foul odour.

Pulling the plant up is the best option. Sterilize the container and remove the soil from the plant if it is in one.

Apply a fungicide to the affected planting area if it happened in your yard or garden.

Avoid future fungus problems by watering your plant’s soil regularly (not the plant itself).

Fungal growth may be encouraged by excessive moisture on the plant’s foliage in shady areas.

How to Get Bleeding Hearts to Bloom

If you’re looking for a flower that blooms all year long, look no further than bleeding hearts.

The plant dies off and enters dormancy in hot weather. It’s possible that this plant will not flower in its first growing season, as it needs time to establish itself.

You may need to divide the plant if it hasn’t bloomed yet or it may be too young.

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Cutting the plant down to one inch of the ground surface can reactivate the plant’s blooming cycle.

It could restart the plant’s growth. Every six weeks, you can feed the plant fertiliser.

This plant does best in moist, but not soggy, soil. If you want your flowers to grow well, keep them out of direct sunlight.

Common Problems With Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding hearts thrive in shady areas, where the air is cooler.

Shade-loving plants, on the other hand, are frequently vulnerable to fungal disease and excessive moisture.

Watering, insect activity, or fungus are the most likely causes of your plant’s problems.

Powdery Patches on Its Foliage

Powdery mildew, a treatable disease if treated quickly, can cause black, grey, white, or pink spots on its leaves.

It looks gnarled, curled, and unappealing as a result of its stunted growth. Fungicide is the solution.

If you want to avoid this, make sure to water the soil rather than the leaves, and keep the plants well-aerated and not too close together.

Brown or Black Spots on the Leaves

Fungal leaf spots can appear as small brown or black spots on the leaves, which then grow larger and form a yellow ring or halo around the spots, which eventually rots out the centre.

If the fungus is discovered early enough, a fungicide or baking soda solution can be used to kill it. The plant will die if the disease progresses any further.

Yellowing Leaves

As the temperature rises, the colour of a person’s heart naturally changes from red to yellow.

It’s pointless to do anything if that’s the case For plants, dormancy is a normal part of their life cycle.

In addition, excessive water, alkaline soil, or excessive sunlight can all cause the yellowing of the leaves. Make the necessary alterations to those circumstances.

Aphid infestations should be looked for as well. Plants are starved of nutrients by aphids, which causes leaf drops and can lead to death.

The emergence of a fungal disease can also be signalled by a change in colouration.

Fungal infections such as Verticillium or Fusarium, which cause yellowing of the skin, are extremely dangerous.

If your plant is infected with this disease, it should be destroyed as soon as possible to prevent it from spreading.

Browning, Blackening, or Rapid Wilting of the Plant

When a plant is infected with diseases like verticillium wilt, fusarium, botrytis, and root rot, it will quickly die out.

To begin with, you’ll notice wilting, which can progress to total browning or the beginnings of decay.

When botrytis is present, the plant will look like it’s covered in a grey fungus.

As soon as your plant starts turning brown or black due to fungal infection, it’s probably too late.

A fungicide can be used to try to revive it, but it’s unlikely to work in most cases.

If you plan on reusing the pot, be sure to clean out all of the soil and dispose of it properly.

Before discarding the plant, either burn it or seal it in a plastic bag.

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