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Bleeding Hearts

Latin Name: Lamprocapnos spectabilis (previously/aka Dicentra spectabilis)

Valentine's Day is just around the corner!

[ this is your reminder to get that special someone in your life a little something special ]


Dicentra spectabilis 'Valentine' (Bleeding Hearts)

Photo Credit:



Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn),

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's Breeches), Dicentra eximia (Fringed Bleeding Hearts) & Dicentra formosa (Fern-leaf Bleeding Hearts)


● Canadian Hardiness Zone: 1B+ (Baseline Nurseries)

(USDA Zone: 3-9, according to MBG)

● Plant Type: Perennial

● Bloom Time: April - May

● Bloom Colour: pinks, reds and white

● Maintenance: Low - Medium

● Water Use: Medium

"If I buy you, bring you home, stick you in the ground, water you and love you -

and you DIE on me - either I didn't do my research OR - you're a sh*t plant."

- a Motivational Speech for plants



What makes this plant beneficial to people, places, animals or our environment?

  • Showy heart-shape flowers hang from arching stems making it a visually interesting and delicate, fine texture in the garden

  • Can be used as a cut flower

  • Foliage dies completely back to ground after flowering which makes it ideal for layered plantings and creating more seasonal interest in smaller spaces.

  • Generally a well-behaved plant that won't spread to other areas of your garden.

  • Attracts Butterflies and Hummingbirds.



What does it LOOK like?

Green, leafy shrub-like appearance with fine textured leaves and delicate heart-shaped flowers. Flowers appear before leaves and foliage goes dormant in Summer after flowers finish.

Height: 2-3 feet

Spread: 1.5-2.5 feet


Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn)

Photo Credit:

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's Breeches)

Photo Credit:


Ideal Growing Conditions

Where does it GROW?

Plant in well-drained soils in Full to Part Shade.

Prefers moist soil in Part Shade.

Does not do well in dry soils during hot Summers or saturated soils in Winter.



Does this plant attract deer, mosquitos or Japanese beetles? Is it susceptible to blight, leaf spot or root rot?

  • No serious issues.

  • Has shown tolerance of deer, rabbits, black walnut trees and heavy shade.

  • Mice and chipmunks sometimes will transplant the tubers elsewhere.


Dicentra formosa (Fern-leaf Bleeding Hearts)

Photo Credit:

Dicentra eximia (Fringed Bleeding Hearts)

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In the Garden/Home/Landscape

Why did I choose to spend my time writing about this particular plant?

  • Excellent in woodland or shade gardens.

  • Easy to maintain (though leaves require cutting back once it goes dormant in late Spring/Early Summer)

  • Flowers are cute is THAT?!


Main Differences

What makes each variety/type different than others?

  1. Dicentra spectabilis (Common Bleeding Heart): Native to Japan.

  2. Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn): Native to Eastern Canada and parts of the USA. Fragrant. Tolerates limestone.

  3. Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's Breeches): xgcb

  4. Dicentra eximia (Fringed Bleeding Hearts): Native to Eastern USA, blooms late Spring to Early Summer.

  5. Dicentra formosa (Fern-leaf Bleeding Hearts): Compact habit, smaller in size than the others, longer bloom season (late Spring to late Summer).


Tips, Tricks and Notes

  1. These plants can be propagated from seed (sometimes) though the best way is to separate clumps every 3-5 years.

  2. Since the leaves of the plant go dormant after blooming (leaves turn yellow and entire plant dies back to ground), it is ideal to plant Bleeding Hearts among groundcover or later-blooming plants (like Hosta) to cover up the yellowing leaves just as it starts to look less appealing.

  3. DO NOT cut the leaves/stems back until they have fully turned yellow. This ensures that the roots receive the energy they need to bloom the following year.

  4. This plant is TOXIC to humans and animals. Do not plant in areas that can be reached by outdoor dogs/cats or children. Thought beneficial to a range of insects and pollinators, it is not to be ingested by pets or people.


Other Resources:


This is just one plant of SO MANY!

Stay tuned for a new post each week that summarizes an Annual, Perennial, Shrub or Tree!


Weekly #FridayFeatureFlower At the top is the pep talk I give my new plants before purchasing them.

I have had a lot dead plants and broken-hearts over the years and I hope that this weekly feature will provide a bit of the research side to help others from suffering my same fate.


The main focus of this blog is plants that thrive outdoors in Southwestern Ontario.

Each week, I’ll review benefits, characteristics, growing conditions, Pests/Diseases/Issues and landscape/garden design applications of one of my favourite, high-impact, low-maintenance plants!

I want your Feedback!

Have you had a different experience with this plant?

Love it? Hate it? Want to know where you can find it? Is there a plant or flower you would like to know more about?

Leave your comments below

or contact me through my website:

Heather Jerrard, My Landscape Artist

Follow me on Instagram! @mylandscapeartist


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