Flowering Bleeding Hearts Are a Sign of Spring

Bleeding hearts are beautiful spring blooming plants. They have green, fern-like leaves and nodding racemes of pendulous blossoms.

Each blossom looks like an earring or a puffy locket on a chain. The blossom is comprised of two outer rose-colored petals and the two inner white petals. If you turn the flower upside down and pull the rose petals apart you will see the lady in a bath. Lady-in-a-bath is another common name for this beautiful plant.

Bleeding heart is an herbaceous perennial that prefers moist soil, high in organic matter (think woodsy). Some shade is best, can be morning sun and afternoon shade or dappled light. With such delicate foliage, you would think that rabbits and deer would decimate bleeding hearts but neither seem interested in my Virginia garden.

These plants emerge in March and bloom in April and May. By June, the leaves have turned yellow and ratty and eventually the plant disappears. It becomes dormant in the summer. In order to prevent a gap in the garden, you can plant other herbaceous perennials such as hardy geraniums or hostas nearby or summer annuals in its place.

There are different cultivars on the market. ‘Alba’ has all white flowers against green foliage. ‘Gold Heart’ has yellow foliage that really brightens up a shady corner and ‘Valentine’ is striking with its cherry-red flowers and red-brown stems.

Try growing bleeding hearts. The plants are very easy to find at local garden centers but you can also dig and divide an established plant if you know someone who has one in their garden.

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