Dicentra spectabilis alba, recently renamed Lamprocapnos spectabilis alba, features nodding, pure white heart shaped flowers which dangle enticingly from arching flower stems, amongst tender green leaves.
Growing Dicentra is easy; you will need rich humusy moisture retentive soil, dappled exposure and a site which offers protection from winds which can damage the foliage and blooms. The plants if they are happy with produce a large vigorous clump which produces dense roots. They grow to be about 1 m.(3 ft.) high by about the same wide
The delicate foliage is a perfect foil for more solid plants and it often does even better in a sunny border provided the soil stays sufficiently moist. Dicentra spectabilis might look delicate but they are tough plants. Hardy to minus 40°C (-40°F), an added benefit is that these plants are deer and rabbit resistant and should be used by gardeners who have these problems.
It looks good growing in clumps among shrubs and although it prefers to be in the shade and a cooler climate, but can survive in hotter weather if kept moist constantly. It is naturally dormant in the summer, so the cooler the climate the more likely it will bloom its heart out.
Planted with other shade lovers such as Ferns, Hostas and Hellebores, it will add charming beauty to your woodland or shade garden. Bleeding-heart can easily be the most breath-taking showstopper in the garden when in full growth.
Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM)
Sowing: Sow seeds as soon as possible.
Ideally sown in the autumn at temperatures around 18 to 22°C (64 to 71°F)
At other times of the year - Stratification in a moist medium aids germination of seeds (This simulates the seeds going through a winter)
Sow the seeds in a well drained compost, cover lightly with vermiculite. Do not cover as the seeds need light to germinate. Place the container in a bed of water, ensuring moisture throughout the compost, then drain. Keep at 18 to 22°C for 2 to 4 weeks. Then move seeds to 4°C (39°F) for 4 to 6 weeks (This can be the fridge). Finally bring back into 5 to 12°C (41 to 53°F) for germination. Seeds are slow to germinate, taking from 30 to 180 days.
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays. Once plant is established, gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out, space 45cm (18in) apart.
Plant in rich humusy moisture retentive soil. Water in periods of drought especially if planted in a sunny position. Drought sends this plant into early dormancy; prolonged wet soil makes it die
Clumps of Dicentra remain compact for many years and should not need dividing. Once established, they have brittle roots and don't like disturbance, so care should be taken when planting near its base. If you wish to divide the root ball, do so in March / April, also try taking root cuttings in spring.
Often plants get messy looking after they bloom, cut them down to 15 cm. (6 in.) and they will regrow with new vigour and often will produce a smaller crop of flowers in late summer or autumn.
Shade/Woodland Garden. Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds or Under-planting roses and shrubs.
Dicentra spectabilis is from Asia but is found in a wide range; from Siberia through Korea into Japan and south into China. It is not common anywhere in the wild. Found in fairly low to quite high elevations from 30 to 2400 m.(100 to 7900 ft.). With this diversity of range it is not surprising to find it is quite hardy surviving -40°C (-40°F).
Bleeding Hearts were first mentioned in “Vollstandige Lexicon der Gartneri und Botanik’ (1804) a book written by German Botanist Friedrich Gottlieb Dietrich(1765-1850). A Professor of Botany, he was the designer and director of the Botanical Gardens in Eisenach and Wilhelmstal. During his lifetime he taught botany and collected many plants, mainly in the Alps.
With his access to the gardens he was able to see many of the new plants be sent from other parts of the world to be catalogued. From the original mention of Bleeding Heart (listed as Fumaria) in 1804 it seems the plant was not long-lived. It was introduced into English gardens in 1812.
In 1846 Robert Fortune (plant explorer extraordinaire) purchased a live Bleeding Heart plant at a nursery in Shanghai China and sent it back to Kew with a note saying that he thought this plant would become very popular with gardeners. Within 5 year the plants were well-distributed in Great Britain and were being sent to continental Europe and North America.
Dicentra is taken from the Greek words dis meaning 'two', and kentros, meaning 'spurs' Native to Northern China, Korea and Japan, it was introduced in England in the mid 1800's.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis ? Yes it is true the name has changed and just recently and we can thank our ability to see plants at a molecular level know so we change their family based on their genetic make up.
The original study appears to have been done in 1997 and the acceptance of the new name was accepted in late August 2006. this is not the first name change, originally it was classed as a Fumaria and later as a Dielytra.
Dicentras are part of the family Fumariaceae (fumitory, fumewort, or bleeding-heart family) but are sometimes treated as subfamily Fumarioideae under family Papaveraceae.
The species name spectablis simply means spectacular.
The word 'alba' refers to the white colour of the flowers. It derives from the Latin word album for a ‘writing tablet’ now used to mean ‘white’ in reference to the tablets historically being white.
Common names include: Bleeding Heart, Showy Bleeding Heart, Tearing Hearts, Venus’s Car, Lady’s Locket, Locks and Keys, Lyre flower, Seal flower, Our Lady in a Boat, Lady in a Bath, Chinaman's breeches, Dutchman's breeches, Chinese Pants and the list goes on.
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 20 Seeds Family Papaveraceae Genus Dicentra Species spectabilis Cultivar alba Common Name Lamprocapnos spectabilis, Bleeding Heart Other Common Names Showy bleeding heart, Lyre flower, Seal flower, Bleeding hearts, Chinaman's breeches, Locks and keys Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers White Heart Shaped blooms. Natural Flower Time Late Spring / Early Summer Height To 100cm (39in) in 2-5years Spread 80 to 100cm (18 to 24in) Position Full Sun to Partial Shade Aspect Sheltered. Soil Best in that infamous "moist, well-drained soil" Time to Sow Sow seeds as soon as possible, ideally in autumn at 18-22*C (64-71*F) Germination 30-180 days.