My favorite early spring flower in the garden is without a doubt a special Bleeding Heart formerly known as Dicentra spectablis ‘gold heart’, Latin genus title just recently changed to Lamprocapnos spectablis. As you can see above, it is a breath of fresh air in the early garden.
In the photo above you see a plant from my zone 5b back garden around May 3 of 2009 – hostas and daffodils are just now leafing out, while bright pink hearts smother this impressive plant. They do great in clay soil and as a specimen lamprocapnos bleeding heart are graceful woodland plants which prefer part shade. Nodding, heart-shaped, rose-pink flowers (1” long) are featured on long, arching racemes which bloom at or slightly above the foliage mound in early to late spring.
- Choose the right bleeding heart for your garden. Lamprocapnos ‘formosa’ is short, for instance, while lamprocapnos ‘spectablis’ can grow over two feet tall. Bleeding Heart typically do well in zones 3 through 9.
- Plant in shade to part-shade – early spring if possible. Bleeding Hearts prefer well drained soil, but adding lots of rotted manure at planting time helps holds moisture and fertilizes organically.
- Compost and mulch regularly around the base of the plant as the plant does better if well watered – compost and mulch helps retain that moisture.
- First year plants require regular watering. After that, only water during the hot and dry seasons.
- Towards very late summer or in intense heat the plant collapses entirely without proper water and looks like it is dead. It simply goes dormant at this time and will return in the spring.
Interesting Fact – - Bleeding hearts were called “Lady-In-The-Bath” by gardeners from the Victorian Era for obvious reasons. If you turn a bleeding heart flower upside down and spread it apart it looks like a lady sitting in a bathtub.