Bleeding Hearts – A Great Way to Add Color to Your Garden
Do you need a little color in your shade garden? Bleeding hearts might be a great choice for you if the conditions are right.
We have a large area on the north side of our house that we grow hosta and ferns in. What is lacking for most of the year is color. A few years ago we planted a bleeding heart in this part of the garden and now it has spread and matured into a beautiful show piece of a plant.
A couple of our bleeding hearts are about 3 feet high and spread out nearly 6 feet in diameter. Our plants are thriving on the rich soil and moist conditions this north facing garden offers.
How to Grow Bleeding Hearts
If you want to grow bleeding hearts in your garden, start with placement. This plant prefers a shady location, organic soil and regular moisture. Our bleeding hearts are in a shady area underneath the reach of a very large tamarack tree. I haven’t tested the soil but I am guessing that it is slightly acidic from the tamarack needles.
Our bleeding hearts do get some morning and late afternoon sun. Looking at our plants, it appears they really like where they are located. We do have a sprinkler system so they get regular watering as well. If you are going to grow bleeding hearts you will need to water them if there is less than an inch of rain per week.
Bleeding hearts are considered an herbaceous perennial. Basically this means that after they have bloomed the plant turns yellow and withers back the ground as the heat of the summer months arrive. You can cut back the foliage after it yellows and withers.
Our plants have spread a little. If you want to divide your bleeding hearts so you have more in your garden, here are some tips we found from Mike Skillin from Skillins Greenhouse:
Carefully dig around the plant with pitchfork or shovel to loosen the soil and pull the roots out of the ground. Shake some of the soil off the roots so you can examine the plant better. You will notice that the plant has developed several buds underground and just above the roots. If you want a nice plant that will flower for you in the spring divide the roots and bud clusters into sections that contain 3 to 5 buds! Pull apart or cut with clean sharp knife.
I always dust the area where the plant came apart with rose or garden dust to prevent insects or disease on the exposed area. Condition the plants’ new home with suggested products (we love Shrub and Tree Mix by Jolly Gardener or Penobscot Blend by Coast of Maine!) and set plants at same depth they were before you pulled them out of the ground, then water well. Water the plants 2 times a week until Columbus Day and place compost 2 inches deep over plants to help protect plants during the winter. (Set this mulch or compost over the plants when the ground freezes up–typically in mid to late November).
There are a lot of reasons to grow bleeding hearts. We have already mentioned the color aspect that they add to your garden. If you have deer issues like we do, bleeding hearts are deer resistant. Another nice feature is that they do seed and generate new plants but they are not invasive. They will not take over your woodland or shade garden. We made the huge mistake of planting queen annes lace a few years ago. There is not enough agent orange in the world to control that plant.
If you have the right conditions in your yard, we strongly suggest that you give bleeding hearts a try. As you can see from our pictures they are really a beautiful addition to your shade garden.
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