Bleeding heart

Dicentra spectabilis | Also known as: Dutchman's breeches, Showy bleeding heart, Chinaman's breeches, Locks and keys | Rating: 0 votes | Print / Pdf

Bleeding Heart is a work of art, the perfect plant for a garden kick start.

The Bleeding Heart is well named, as during the late spring and summer it sports delicate, heart shaped blooms that dangle delicately from between the foliage. The flowers are a pinkish red colour, with white tips, and they honestly do look like love hearts contrasting against its deep green leaves. But despite its fragile demeanour, Dicentra spectabilis is a tough little cookie, and can cope with all that the British weather can throw at her. For the best results, plant in partial shade, as she doesn’t like sunlight that’s too intense.

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Known dangers?
  • yes
Dangers: comments
  • Avoid eating this plant, or you may have mild stomach upset. Its sap may irritate your skin.
Height [m]
  • 1.2
Spread [m]
  • 0.45
Dominant flower colour
  • Pink
Flower Fragrance
  • No, neutral please
Flowering seasons
  • Late spring
  • Early summer
Foliage in spring
  • Green
Foliage in summer
  • Green
Foliage in Autumn
  • Green
Propagation methods
  • seed
  • division
Growth habit
  • Arching
  • Clump-forming
  • Neutral
  • Alkaline
Hardiness zone
  • Z3-9
Heat zone
  • H9-1
Winter temperatures [°C]
  • -40 - -1
Heat days
  • 0 - 150
  • well-drained but frequently watered
Soil type
  • Clay
  • chalky
  • loams
Sun requirements
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
  • Full shade
  • Sheltered
Standard category
  • Flowers & bulbs
  • Perennials
Grown for
  • Attractive Flowers
Creative category
  • For Beginners
  • We love the dark
  • Colours
  • Tough survivors
Garden type
  • Woodland
Garden spaces
  • Shade
  • Borders
Gardening expertise
  • beginner
Time to reach full size
  • 2 to 5 years
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Dicentra eximia Stuart Boothman

Bleeding Heart

PLANTS Dicentra

The Diacentra, or Bleeding Heart, is the name for eight different species of flowering plants. They’re very delicate flowers, with blooms that hang pendulous from the end of a long stem. They can be found in white through different shades of pink through to yellow. Most are simple to grow and require little on-going care to successfully cultivate. However, all are toxic, so care should be taken when deciding where to site them as they’re not suitable to be located where children might be able to get hold of them.

Dicentra cucullaria

Dutchman's Breeches

PLANTS Dicentra cucullaria | -34°C - -7°C beginner Partial shade

You only need to take a look at the flowers of the Dutchman’s Breeches to see where the inspiration for the name came from. The small, yellow tipped white flowers bear an uncanny resemblance to a miniature pair of inflated trousers – something that can be a real talking point in the garden. Dicentra cucullaria flowers during the spring months, so is a great choice for adding early season colour. It also has foliage that resembles small ferns, so adds a variety of texture and shade to the garden. It’s a hardy little number and resistant to frost. Plant in partial shade for the best results.

Dicentra formosa

Wild Bleeding Heart

PLANTS Dicentra formosa | -34°C - -7°C beginner Full shade, Partial shade

The Wild Bleeding Heart ‘Landtrees’ is a wonderful plant that flowers with white, blushed pink blooms during spring and summer. Dicentra formosa is toxic if eaten. Its leaves may also trigger skin allergies. It’s a hardy little plant, coping with all the weather can throw at it, and likes a partially shady position in the garden to best thrive. It’s easy to grow and requires little on-going maintenance.

Dicentra formosa subsp. oregona

Bleeding Heart

PLANTS Dicentra formosa subsp. oregona | -34°C - -7°C beginner Partial shade

Dicentra formosa subsp. oregona , or the Bleeding Heart, is a plant that blooms with delicate, pale pink flowers during the spring and summer. It’s a branching, arching plant. A great choice for a cottage garden, it’s also commonly used in flower arranging. Plant in partial shade for the best results, but be aware that all parts of the plant are toxic if ingested. This makes it necessary to be careful where you locate it in the garden, especially if you have children running around.

Yellow Bleeding Heart

PLANTS Dicentra macrantha | -34°C - -7°C beginner Full shade, Partial shade

A delightfully easy plant to grow, the Dicentra macrantha, or Yellow Bleeding Heart, sports delicate, pale green blooms during the spring that hang downwards from its arching stems. This plant is toxic, so be care if planting where small children are around. Often seen in flower arrangements, it’s also well suited to beds and borders, cottage or wild flower gardens. Plant in partial or full shade for the best results.

Yellow Bleeding Heart Vine

PLANTS Dicentra scandens | -34°C - -7°C beginner Partial shade, Full shade

This delightfully jolly looking plant provides your garden with vibrant yellow, delicately drooping blooms during the spring and summer months. Dicentra scandens, or the Yellow Bleeding Heart Vine, is easy to grow, and a hardy little plant that can cope with inclement weather. It’s also low maintenance, making it an ideal choice for the beginner or time short gardener. Plant in full or partial shade for the best results, and locate in beds and borders, wild flower or cottage gardens.

Dicentra spectabilis Alba

Bleeding heart 'Alba'

PLANTS Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba' | -40°C - -1°C beginner Full sun, Partial shade, Full shade