Kristi's Bleeding Heart Page

By: Kristi Ann Wanner

"What is a Bleeding Heart?"

Dicentra, more commonly known as the Bleeding Heart, is a herbaceous perennial that belongs to the Fumariaceae family. It was first discovered in Japan by Robert Fortune in the 1840's. (

"What does a Bleeding Heart look like?"

It's not hard to pick this delicate flower out of a crowd. The thing I love most about the Bleeding Heart is its heart-shaped flowers. The common flower colors are bright red, pink, and white, but it is possible to find a yellow flower as well. Not only does it have lovely flowers, but the foliage is also lacy and fern-like. The foliage ranges in color from green to grayish-green. The Bleeding Heart plant ranges from 6" to 48" tall and 12" to 18" wide.

"Where should I plant my Bleeding Heart plant?"

First you must make sure the plant can survive in your area. Bleeding Hearts will thrive in hardy zones 3-10. Below is a map of hardy zones in the United States. You can locate your hardy zone by using the key on the side.

If you are living in hardy zones 3-10, it is safe to plant a Bleeding Heart in your climate. As you can see, nearly all areas of the United States can grow Bleeding Hearts. You will want to start by plant it in the early spring. Make sure to always plant the Bleeding Heart in partial shade and rich soil with excellent drainage. Bleeding Heart plants are not at all heat tolerant, so be careful when choosing a location. Although a Bleeding Heart might look like they would be finicky, they are actually very easy to make happy. Make sure to keep the plant well-watered throughout the summer. If you live in North Dakota (or anywhere north of zone 7), place mulch around the plants during the winter to protect them. (

"I live in hardy zone 3. Which species of Dicentra would be most successful in my area?"

D. spectabilis is one of the only species that grows well in hardy zone 3. D. spectabilis is commonly known as a "Japanese garden bleeding heart," "common bleeding heart" or "Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart". This species has small red/dark pink and white flowers. The flowers usually bloom for several weeks in the late spring. ( This species also comes in a white form called D. spectabilis 'alba'. Also, England has modified this plant into D. spectabilis 'Gold Heart'. This plant's stems are up to three feet tall. (

D. spectabilis
D. spectabilis alba

"I love my bleeding heart plants! How can I propagate them to get more?"

Propagation for bleeding hearts can take place through division, root cuttings, vegetative cuttings, or seed. Bleeding Heart's roots are very brittle, so caution must be used when separating them. Do this in spring or late summer. After large roots have formed, root cuttings (3 inches long) can be taken after the plant has flowered. (

Bleeding heart plants can be very beautiful and easy to care for if you treat them right. Feel free to use them as an accent plant or as the center of attention in any arrangement and ENJOY!


Quick Review of General Plant Characteristics


Up to 4 ft.
Time of bloom
Flower colors
yellow, White, and various shades of red
courtesy of 

Quick Review of Care for Plants

Soil Type

Well-drained, humus rich
soil ph
Partial Shade
courtesy of 


Related pages to look at:

Microsoft Encarta

Encyclopia Britannica

Wiseare Gardens page

Rainyside Gardening page

Parkseed page

Michican State University Extension