Bleeding hearts are beautiful plants that blossom in the early spring. They produce delicate heart shaped flowers that dangle on a pendant stalk. The bleeding heart is a shrub that is native to the understory of forests. While they are often planted in perennial garden beds, bleeding hearts are also an ideal plant for an early spring container display.
Bleeding hearts prefer cool moist environments and will pair well with ferns. When including these plants in a container arrangement it is important to plan ahead because bleeding hearts go dormant in late summer.
To maintain interest in the container arrangement, plant them with late bloomers that have attractive foliage such as hostas. The container can also be moved and stored in a shady space once the plant becomes dormant.
Be sure to choose a large container for your bleeding hearts as they can become a substantial plant and they will need plenty of space to grow. Balcony Container Gardening suggests using the species Dicentra formosa in containers because of its more compact size. This species only grows from 9 inches to 1.5 feet tall. A bleeding heart can grow four to five years in a large container before needing to be divided and repotted.
Water and Potting Mix
eHow Home recommends using a very rich potting mix that has plenty of organic material. Remember you are trying to mimic a forest floor. Include some perlite or coarse sand in the potting mix to ensure it allows enough drainage. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy. Bleeding hearts like moisture and humidity, but can easily succumb to root rot. The San Francisco Gate warns to be especially vigilant about watering on hot days as it will help the plant manage the heat.
Place the container in a space that is lightly shaded or that has bright filtered sunlight, some morning sun exposure will be okay. Balcony Container Gardening informs that the pink flowered varieties can tolerate more direct sun than the white flowered varieties.
The plants can be fertilized once a month during the growing season with a dilute liquid fertilizer. Alternatively, you can use a slow release granular fertilizer or compost.
Once the plant has finished flowering, sometime during late spring or early summer, it will begin to go dormant. The leaves will turn a yellowish color and some may fall off. At this point you can trim back the shrub to give it shape and help it grow fuller the next season. You may also want to consider moving it if it is prominently displayed.
Outdoor Container Arrangement
Bleeding hearts are an attractive container plant. Use them to take advantage of the cool wet spring. Bleeding hearts will perform well when you need an extra dash of color before summer blossoms appear. Consider planting them in a rustic outdoor planter like those from the Urban Garden Accent collection to accentuate the plant’s cottage style charm. Their unique flowers and lacy foliage are the perfect spring time addition to outdoor patios, entryways, and sidewalks.