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Valentine’s day brings hearts of all kinds but in the Midwest you have to wait a little longer for the popular garden ornamental known as common or old-fashioned bleeding heart to come into bloom. Dicentra spectabilis, native to eastern Asia (northern China, Korea and Japan), won’t start blooming until late spring. This perennial in the fumitory family (Fumariaceae) is hardy in zones 2-8.D. spectabilis was brought to England in 1810 but didn’t get established. It was introduced again after a Royal Horticultural Society plant exploration trip to the Far East in 1846, and soon it became a common garden plant. Some other less-common common names for this plant include Chinese Pants, Lady’s Locket, Lyre Flower, Our-Lady-in-a-Boat, and Tearing Hearts.
This herbaceous plant forms loose, bushy clumps up to 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide from brittle, fleshy roots. The reddish new foliage emerges from the ground in very early spring and plants grow quickly to be one of the first flowering perennials in the spring, combining nicely with tulips and Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica).
Use bleeding heart in cottage gardens, wildflower gardens and in shady spots throughout the landscape. These elegant plants work well in shaded borders and woodland gardens but should be positioned so that other plants will obscure the dying foliage when the bleeding heart begins to senesce later in the season. In a shade garden it can be combined with ferns, hosta, hardy geranium, and astilbe, which come out later in the spring to fill in as the bleeding heart declines. Other ways to deal with such gaps include planting annual impatiens underneath, to grow up as the bleeding heart dies back, or placing containers with blooming annuals in the area after the foliage dies back.Bleeding heart has few pests, although aphids may occasionally infest particularly the inflorescences and slugs may feed on the leaves.
5064 Milford Road, East Stroudsburg, PA
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Seth H. Richards
Locally owned and Family Operated Since 1932.
Dr. John Richards established Richards Tree Farm in Middle Smithfield, PA as an evergreen farm. Building on those roots, his Great Grandson, Seth Hastings Richards, has grown the farm into a full service Garden Center and Landscape installation business for the past 25 years. The farm specializes in Organic Gardening, Edible, Native, and Unique plants.