Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dicentra - Bleeding Heart

There is a huge difference between ever-blooming ('luxuriant') and the May blooming (spectabilis) dicentra in my garden - in size, shape and bloom.

Dicentra 'luxuriant' blooms reliably all summer with the greatest blush in May. Planted in 1995 the plant is now 1 ½ feet tall by 2 ½ feet wide. This small plant with cut-leafed blue-green foliage blooms in the shade reliably all summer. The flowers are smaller and not quite as well defined as spectabilis.

The one I call the “old fashion bleeding heart”, Dicentra spectabilis 'pink', was planted in 2002 and has a lovely form and flower. The plant is about 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide and blooms in May. It grows in the shade of a dogwood and dies back in August. I cut it back as each stem or leaves begin to yellow, but it has come back reliably each year.

Both plants are easy to grow. The Dicentra ‘luxuriant’ needs no care at all and, if space is at a premium, will stay within bounds. The “old fashioned” bleeding heart is a large plant, but the attractive spring show of arching stems and definite, heart-shaped flowers is spectacular.

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