Best Hardy Perennials

Why You Should Grow Beautiful Bleeding Heart Plants

Bleeding Heart plants are not only beautiful, they are easy to grow, and take minimal maintenance. The graceful blooms look like tiny little hearts hanging from a string!

bleeding heart plants with pink blooms

Bleeding heart plants are the quintessential, old fashioned addition to your perennial garden. They date back to the early 1800’s, when they began appearing in shade gardens and wooded areas here in the U.S. Bleeding hearts bloom in the very early spring, so they are such a welcome sight after a cold winter.

bed of bleeding heart plants by house

As some of you may know, we live in a 1960’s colonial style home. Along the side of our garage is a narrow walkway that leads into our backyard. In between the house and the walkway, is a 2-foot wide garden bed. I planted hosta in the first section of the bed many years ago. The second section, which sits right outside our screened-in back porch, measures about 5′ x 2′. It’s very shaded, so it stays dark and moist most of the summer. I could, of course, have planted hosta there too, but I wanted something different. So over the years, I have tried to grow many things in this little spot. Nothing thrived until I tried bleeding heart plants.

Three years ago, I picked up two bedraggled bleeding heart plants at the end of the summer. I dug up that little bed, added some compost, popped in the bleeding hearts, and hoped for the best. The very next spring, they were full and green, but there were only a couple of blooms. The second spring, which was last year, they doubled in size, and the blooms were amazing. We had just gone into the COVID quarantine, and those blooms put a smile on my face every time I walked outside.

So this year, they are once again big, beautiful, and blooming. If you have any shaded areas in your garden, or around your home, I encourage to plant this gorgeous flowering perennial!

pink bleeding heart plants

How to Grow Bleeding Heart Plants

  • Growing bleeding hearts is easy. Plant in the spring, but wait until the soil has warmed a bit, and there is no possibility of a hard frost. Try to find bedding plants that look healthy…although mine were the opposite, and they did just fine! Bleeding Hearts can also be started from bulbs, or bare-root plants.
  • They love full shade, and moist soil.
  • If your soil is old and dry, add some compost.
  • Water well the first year, and then bleeding heart plants basically take care of themselves.
  • Bleeding heart plants are finished blooming by late spring, the leaves turn yellow, and the plant dies down. You can cut it back at this time.
  • It works well to mix bleeding hearts in with other shade-loving perennials that have a later bloom time. That way when they die down, you don’t have an empty spot.
  • There is no need to split or move this plant. Once established, they like to stay put!
arrangement of pink flowers in pitcher

Good Things About Bleeding Hearts

  • Feel free to add this beautiful plant to your garden even if you have issues with deer and rabbits. The deer and rabbits don’t like them.
  • Bleeding hearts love the shade, so they pair beautifully with hosta plants, lungwort, or ferns.
  • Did you know bleeding hearts are easy to dry and press? Just place the blooms in between two pieces of wax paper and put something heavy on top. It also works to place the pieces of wax paper in the middle of a large book. After two weeks, the blooms will be thin, perfectly pressed little hearts.
  • Bleeding heart plants bloom in the very early spring, so they are among the first blooms you can cut and bring indoors. Cut the stems as low as possible, place them in a tall pitcher, and enjoy a stunning flower arrangement for up to a week.
  • Like many old fashioned flowers, bleeding heart plants are know for their symbolization. The traditional plants with pink and red blooms symbolize romance and love. Plants with white blooms represent purity.
  • My plants are Dicentra spectabilis ‘Lady’s Locket’ and they have dark pink hearts that hang gracefully from an arching stem.
graceful blooms on bleeding heart plants

Word of Warning: bleeding hearts are not safe for dogs or cats. They are toxic, and if consumed by a small pet, there will be vomiting and even convulsions. It’s very rare, but sometimes after handling, this plant will cause a light rash on human skin. I’ve handled my bleeding hearts many times, without gloves, and never had any adverse side effects. To be on the safe side, just make sure to keep pets and small children away.

pink bleeding hearts in tall pitcher
from 2020

So what do you think? Do you have a spot where you could plant some bleeding hearts? Let me know in the comments…and thank you so much for stopping by. Until next time…