How to Grow Bleeding Hearts Plants: Easy Steps & Care Tips

guide on how to grow bleeding hearts plants
14 min reading time

If you’re looking to add a touch of charm and elegance to your garden, look no further than bleeding hearts plants. Known for their heart-shaped flowers and delicate foliage, these perennials are a favorite among gardeners and can make a beautiful addition to any landscape.

In this article, we’ll guide you on how to grow bleeding hearts plants, from understanding their characteristics to proper care and maintenance. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, with our easy steps and care tips, you’ll be able to cultivate a stunning display of bleeding heart flowers.

Key Takeaways

  • Bleeding hearts plants are perennials that are popular in gardens due to their heart-shaped flowers and delicate foliage.
  • Proper care and maintenance, including choosing the right location, adequate watering and fertilizing, and pruning, can help your bleeding hearts plants thrive.
  • Common pests and diseases can affect bleeding hearts plants, but with prevention and treatment, you can keep them healthy and beautiful.
  • Bleeding hearts plants can be propagated through division or seed sowing.
  • By following our easy steps and care tips, you can grow a stunning display of bleeding heart flowers in your garden.

Understanding Bleeding Hearts Plants

Bleeding hearts plants are an attractive and popular herbaceous perennial that is known for their heart-shaped flowers. These plants are native to Asia and North America and are often found in gardens as an ornamental plant. The scientific name of the bleeding heart plant is Dicentra spectabilis, and it belongs to the Papaveraceae family of plants.

The bleeding heart plant can grow to a height of 60 cm to 1.2 meters and is characterized by its soft, fern-like, green foliage. The flowers of the plant bloom in spring and summer and are usually pink, white, or red, depending on the cultivar. The flowers of the bleeding heart plant are unique, with a heart-shaped outer petal and a protruding inner petal that resembles a drop of blood.

Bleeding hearts plants are relatively easy to care for, making them an ideal choice for novice and experienced gardeners alike. They are resilient, durable, and very adaptable to different conditions. The plants require minimal maintenance and can survive even in unfavorable growing conditions, making them a popular choice for gardeners across the United States.

Choosing the Right Location for Your Bleeding Hearts Plants

When it comes to caring for bleeding hearts plants, choosing the right location is crucial. These plants prefer partial shade, making them an ideal choice for planting under trees or along the north side of a house. However, they can also tolerate full sun if provided with adequate moisture.

It’s important to note that bleeding hearts plants prefer rich, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, consider adding organic matter such as compost or peat moss to improve drainage.

Sunlight Requirements

As mentioned earlier, bleeding hearts plants prefer partial shade but can tolerate full sun if provided with adequate moisture. If planting in full sun, it’s important to ensure that the soil remains consistently moist, as these plants do not tolerate drought well.

Soil Conditions

Bleeding hearts plants prefer soil that is rich, well-draining, and slightly acidic. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, consider adding organic matter such as compost or peat moss to improve drainage and provide additional nutrients. In addition, these plants thrive in soil that is consistently moist but not soggy, so be sure to provide regular watering to keep the soil moist.

Planting Bleeding Hearts Plants

When it comes to planting bleeding hearts, it’s important to choose the right location. Bleeding hearts prefer moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. Before planting, prepare the soil by digging a hole twice the diameter of the root ball and mixing in organic matter, like compost or peat moss.

Once the soil is prepared, it’s time to plant the bleeding heart. If you’re planting multiple bleeding hearts, space them about 2 to 3 feet apart. Before placing the plant in the hole, gently loosen the roots. Then, place the plant in the hole with the crown (where the stem meets the roots) at soil level. Fill in the hole with soil and gently tamp it down around the plant.

Finally, water the plant thoroughly to help settle the soil and reduce any air pockets around the roots. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, until the plant is established.

Watering and Fertilizing Bleeding Hearts Plants

Bleeding hearts plants require consistent moisture in order to stay healthy and produce vibrant flowers throughout the growing season. During the first year after planting, it’s especially important to keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. After that, bleeding heart plants can tolerate brief periods of dryness, but it’s still best to keep the soil consistently moist during the growing season.

When it comes to fertilizing bleeding hearts plants, a slow-release fertilizer applied in the spring is usually all that’s needed. Avoid fertilizing later in the growing season, as this can encourage new growth that might not have time to harden off before winter arrives.

One good option for fertilizing bleeding hearts plants is to use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer with a ratio like 10-10-10. Apply it in the spring as new growth begins to emerge from the soil, following the fertilizer manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

If the bleeding heart plants don’t seem to be growing well or producing as many flowers as you’d like, it may be worth testing the soil to see if it’s lacking in any particular nutrients. There are many soil testing kits available that can help you determine the best course of action.

Mulching and Weed Control for Bleeding Hearts Plants

Proper mulching and weed control are essential for maintaining healthy and thriving bleeding hearts plants. Mulch helps to retain moisture and prevent weeds from growing, while also protecting the roots from extreme temperatures.

MulchingWeed Control
  • Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant, leaving a small gap around the stem to prevent rotting.
  • Use organic mulch like bark, leaves, or wood chips, which will decompose over time and add nutrients to the soil.
  • Avoid using plastic or rubber mulch, which can prevent water and nutrients from reaching the roots.
  • Hand pull weeds regularly to prevent them from competing with the bleeding hearts plants for nutrients and water.
  • Use a hoe to remove weeds, but be careful not to damage the roots of the bleeding hearts plants.
  • Apply a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring to prevent weed seeds from germinating.

With proper mulching and weed control, your bleeding hearts plants will have the best possible conditions for growth and will reward you with beautiful blooms year after year.

Pruning and Deadheading Bleeding Hearts Plants

Pruning and deadheading are essential for keeping your bleeding hearts plants looking beautiful and healthy. Deadheading is the process of removing spent blooms to encourage new growth and prevent the plant from going to seed. Pruning, on the other hand, involves removing parts of the plant, such as stems or branches, to encourage new growth and maintain the plant’s shape.

When to Deadhead

Deadheading bleeding hearts plants is a simple process that can help promote longer blooming periods. You should deadhead your plant regularly throughout the growing season, removing the spent blooms as soon as they begin to fade. Be sure to cut the stem all the way back to the base of the plant, making sure not to remove any buds or new growth.

When to Prune

Pruning bleeding hearts plants can help promote a fuller, bushier shape and prevent the plant from becoming too leggy. You should prune your plant in the early spring before new growth begins. Start by removing any dead or damaged stems or branches, cutting them back to the base of the plant. Then, remove any stems that appear spindly or crowded, leaving only the healthiest ones behind.

Once you have finished pruning, you can also shape your plant by cutting back any stems that are too long or out of place. Be sure to use clean, sharp shears to make your cuts, and avoid cutting into the main stem of the plant.

Benefits of Pruning and Deadheading

Pruning and deadheading bleeding hearts plants can help keep them healthy and looking their best. By removing spent blooms and pruning back unhealthy or overcrowded growth, you can promote new growth and prevent the plant from becoming too leggy or weak. Plus, regular deadheading can help prolong the blooming season, giving you even more time to enjoy these beautiful flowers in your garden.

Dealing with Common Pests and Diseases

Despite their hardiness, bleeding hearts plants can fall victim to a variety of pests and diseases. Here are some common issues that gardeners may encounter and tips on how to prevent and treat them:

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails love to munch on bleeding hearts leaves. To keep them at bay, try using organic slug and snail baits or creating a barrier around the plants with copper tape. You can also manually pick them off and dispose of them.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny pests that can cause discoloration and webbing on the leaves. To prevent infestations, regularly mist the plants with water and keep the area around them clean. If an infestation occurs, try using insecticidal soap to eliminate the mites.

Fungal Diseases

Bleeding hearts plants are susceptible to various fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew and crown rot. To prevent fungal growth, avoid overwatering and ensure good air circulation around the plants. If you notice signs of infection, remove and dispose of affected foliage and treat with a fungicide if necessary.

By keeping an eye out for pests and diseases and taking preventative measures, you can enjoy healthy and beautiful bleeding hearts plants in your garden.

how to grow bleeding hearts plants- guide

Propagating Bleeding Hearts Plants

Bleeding hearts plants can be propagated through two main methods: division and seed sowing. Both are relatively easy and can yield beautiful new plants.


Division is the easiest and most common way to propagate bleeding hearts. It’s best done in early spring, just as new growth begins to emerge. Here’s how to do it:

1.Gently dig up the parent plant and remove any excess soil from the roots.
2.Using a sharp knife or garden shears, divide the clump into smaller sections. Each section should have at least one healthy shoot and a good set of roots.
3.Plant each section in a prepared hole at the same depth as the parent plant, spacing them 2-3 feet apart.
4.Water well and keep the soil moist until new growth appears.

With proper care, your new bleeding heart plants should thrive and grow into mature plants in just a few years.

Seed Sowing

Seed sowing is another way to propagate bleeding hearts, but it requires more time and patience. It’s best done in late summer or early fall, just before the first frost. Here’s how to do it:

1.Collect fresh seeds from mature bleeding heart plants. The seed pods will have turned brown and begun to dry out.
2.Fill a seed tray or small pots with well-draining soil and place one or two seeds on top of each potting mix container (at a depth of about 1/4 inch).
3.Water the soil thoroughly and cover with a plastic bag or plastic wrap to retain moisture.
4.Place the tray or pots in a cool, dark location for several months (up to 6 months).
5.Once the seedlings have emerged, move them to a bright, well-lit location and transplant them outdoors in the early spring.

Seed sowing is a longer and more unpredictable process than division, but it can yield many new plants at once. It’s worth trying if you’re patient and willing to experiment.

Overwintering Bleeding Hearts Plants

Bleeding hearts plants are hardy perennials that can survive cold temperatures, but they still need some protection during the winter months. Here are some tips on how to overwinter your bleeding hearts plants:

  • Stop fertilizing: In the fall, stop fertilizing your bleeding hearts plants to allow them to prepare for dormancy.
  • Cut back: After the first frost, cut back the foliage of your bleeding hearts plants to about two inches above the ground.
  • Mulch: Spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plants to insulate the roots and protect them from extreme temperatures. Use a light mulch like straw or shredded leaves.
  • Water: Water the plants well before the first frost to ensure they are hydrated going into dormancy.

If you live in an area with harsh winter weather, you may want to consider additional measures to protect your bleeding hearts plants. One option is to cover them with burlap or frost cloth. Another is to dig up the bulbs and store them in a cool, dry place until spring.

With the right care during the winter, your bleeding hearts plants will return in the spring, adding color and beauty to your garden once again.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Bleeding Hearts Plants

While bleeding hearts plants are generally low-maintenance and easy to care for, they may face some challenges in certain conditions. Here are some common issues you may encounter and solutions to help your plants thrive:

Yellowing Leaves

If your bleeding hearts plant’s leaves begin to turn yellow, it may indicate a lack of nutrients or too much sunlight. Try fertilizing the soil with a balanced fertilizer or moving the plant to a shadier location.

Stunted Growth

Stunted growth can be caused by various factors including poor soil conditions or lack of water. Ensure that the soil is moist, but not waterlogged, and consider adding organic matter to improve soil quality.


Wilting can be a sign of underwatering or overwatering. Check the soil moisture level regularly and adjust your watering frequency accordingly. Also, remember to avoid watering the foliage or flowers directly to prevent fungal growth.

Pests and Diseases

Bleeding hearts plants may attract slugs, snails, and aphids, which can cause damage to the leaves and flowers. To prevent these pests, keep the soil free of debris, and remove any dead or damaged plant parts. If you notice any signs of disease, such as leaf spots or powdery mildew, treat the plant with a fungicide and avoid overhead watering.

By following these tips and solutions, you can help prevent and address common issues with bleeding hearts plants and ensure your garden is bursting with beautiful, healthy blooms.


Now that you have learned how to grow and care for bleeding hearts plants, it’s time to start cultivating your own beautiful garden. Remember to choose the right location with proper sunlight and soil conditions, plant them correctly, and water and fertilize them regularly.

Don’t forget about mulching and weed control to keep your garden healthy and thriving. Pruning and deadheading are also essential to ensure the best growth and blooming. If you encounter any issues with pests or diseases, take prompt action to prevent spreading.


What are bleeding hearts plants?

Bleeding hearts plants are known for their unique heart-shaped flowers and are popular in gardens for their delicate beauty.

How do I choose the right location for my bleeding hearts plants?

When choosing a location for your bleeding hearts plants, consider their sunlight and soil requirements for optimal growth.

Why should I water and fertilize bleeding hearts plants?

Proper watering and fertilizing are important for the health of bleeding hearts plants. Learn about the frequency and methods to keep them thriving

Why should I prune and deadhead bleeding hearts plants?

Bleeding hearts plants should be pruned to encourage new growth and prolong their blooming period.

How can I propagate bleeding hearts plants?

Bleeding hearts plants can be propagated through methods such as division and seed sowing, to expand your plant collection.

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