Simply The Best Natives-Wild Bleeding Heart


“Let us decide on the route that we wish to take to pass our life, and attempt to sow that route with flowers.”  ~Madame du Chatelet




I have always loved Bleeding Hearts, but the Asian Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) has not adapted to my garden easily.  So I thought I would add a native Bleeding Heart, in hopes it would grow more readily.  I decided on Fringed or Wild Bleeding Heart, ordered some bare root plants last year, and over wintered them in pots.  This year they grew beautifully and filled out in their large containers.

DSCN3496Even though I have already profiled one native Dicentra (Dicentra cucullaria) this year,  I thought Wild Bleeding Heart would make another wonderful plant to highlight for this series.  Known as Dicentra eximia, they are part of the Fumitory Family (Fumariaceae).  Sometimes called Turkey Corn, they grow 1-2 feet high and wide.  I hope to see my new plants put on a display of mounding, gray-green, ferny leaves and drooping clusters of white to magenta-pink hearts, once planted out next spring.

Unlike the Asian Bleeding Heart, this plant will bloom for months from early spring through summer, and with pruning can bloom sporadically right to the first frost.  Also the leaves will stay evergreen through most of the growing season.

Wild Bleeding Heart is native to the wooded slopes in the eastern US, from Vermont to Illinois and south to the mountains of Georgia and Tennessee, found mostly throughout the Appalachian Mountains.  There are some schools of thought that say, north of Pennsylvania, this plant is naturalized instead of being native.

amandaAs I profile this wonderful native plant, I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme, and Diana@Elephant’s Eye at False Bay for her Dozen for Diana monthly meme. And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to buy native plants for my garden.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.  Check out their Spring 2016 catalog.




Growing Conditions

DSCN4230Wild Bleeding Heart grows in zones 3 to 9, and prefers shade and part shade, in rich, moist, well-drained soil.  It will tolerate more sun if kept moist.  Once established, this Bleeding Heart will tolerate occasional periods of drought, and does not like wet, winter soil.

It is best to divide this plant every few years in early spring.  You can also find transplants around the plant from seeds dropping.  Like many native wildflowers, the seeds are covered with sticky elaiosome that attracts ants.  When the ants take the seeds to their nests, they distribute the seeds around the garden.

Wild Bleeding Hearts can be bothered by slugs, aphids, downy mildew, rust and other fungal diseases especially if not planted in ideal conditions.




Benefits to Wildlife DSCN4111

Wild Bleeding Heart’s nectar attracts hummingbirds and long-tongued native bumblebees.  

Hummers rely on its nectar, early in the garden season, when they are migrating.

The plant is rabbit and deer-resistant.





DSCN3782This native Bleeding Heart is a perfect addition to a wildflower, woodland or shade garden.  It is not aggressive, so it won’t take over an area, but they will naturalize and fill in.

It is a perfect accent plant or groundcover in a Cottage garden too.  Heucheras, Tiarellas, ferns and short grasses, like Carex, make great companion plants.  

I am thinking of planting mine in my part shade Wall Garden.




Folklore and Tales 

Dicentra is derived from the Greek for two-spurred, and the Latin word for hood.  The name eximia means “distinguished” in Latin. 

The root of Wild Bleeding Heart has been used as a diuretic by healers.

This plant can cause a toxic reaction if ingested, and the sap can also cause skin irritation with repeated contact so be careful.



Do you grow any native wildflowers?  What is your favorite summer wildflower? 

bleeding heart collage




In A Vase On Monday 



After seeing the delphiniums blooming next to the Oakleaf hydrangea, I knew what I would be collecting for my vase this week.  And such a majestic vase had to be placed on the mantel.





I added a bit of white phlox  in the back of the vase.  And in the front of the vase, I left a bit of room for the Nigella that are finally blooming in my new Fruit Bed.  I read that strawberries and Nigella love to be planted near each other, and wow are my strawberries loving these flowers too.  The new strawberry plants are growing big and already spreading and putting on a second flush of flowers and fruit.  Can’t wait to harvest a few more late strawberries.





Queen Anne’s Lace has started to bloom all over, and I wanted to include some in a vase.  I also saw lots of daisies blooming with other white blooms.  So I thought these would make a nice little vase of white blooms to grace my sacred space.




white vase

I included one bloom from my new, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’.  Also in the vase are the white blossoms of the groundcover, Houttuynia cordata although the foliage is no longer variegated.  And a few blooms of Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’.  I love the look of this lacy, lovely vase.


I am joining in with Cathy@Rambling in the Gardenfor her wonderful meme In A Vase On Monday, as I create these vases this week.  Check out what creative vases other bloggers are putting together.



Next up on the blog:  

Monday I will finally have an update on my front Sidewalk Garden.  It has taken me a lot longer to really clear and prune this overgrown garden.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog, Rambling Woods.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Monday. 

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2016.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

60 Replies to “Simply The Best Natives-Wild Bleeding Heart”

  1. Beautiful vases Donna. The second one is quite special as I can see elements I have used this week, and Cathy has also used Annabelle in her vase today, and yet we are all miles apart and have different climates and soils! That’s what I love about blogging – feeling connected. 😀

  2. Your vases are beautiful, Donna! I have been bringing in flowers recently too – hydrangeas, lilies and coneflowers. My powder room smells like Stargazers! Mmmm….love it.
    I enjoyed hearing about the wild bleeding heart. Beautiful plant! I grew an old-fashioned bleeding heart until it got lost in the garden renovation (hardscaping) project. Last year I purchased bleeding heart ‘Valentine’ and it’s doing well. Hope you are enjoying your retirement!

    1. Oh that is too bad about the bleeding heart you lost but glad to hear another is finding a spot in your garden Beth!

  3. I love the elegance of your first vase this week Donna; Delphiniums are the quintessential English border plant, I love the mix of colours in each part of the bloom and they work very well with Annabel.

    1. Thanks so much Christina…I agree Delphs are the perfect English Garden flower and I am so pleased I found the perfect spot for them.

  4. This wild bleeding heart grows everywhere in my garden, I do not think about its growing conditions, ha ha! Love your vase with delphiniums!

  5. Beautiful flowers, as always!

    I let a small area on the north side of my house go ‘au natural”–and it’s been fun to see what natives pop up. I even had a jack in the pulpit-which was a really nice surprise.

  6. Hello, Donna! Thank you for the interesting post.
    I have planted a Dicentra eximia in my garden this year. We’ll see how it winters. It’s such a pretty plant.
    Your arrangements are lovely. Nigella is one of my all-time favourites. I had it in different colours in our garden in Italy and loved to add it to the bouquets.
    Have a happy week! Hugs!

    1. I would love to grow more colors of nigella next year…just such a wonderful flower. Hope your bleeding heart grows big and lovely for you Sara!

  7. A beautiful vase this week, Donna. I love blue and white together – simply elegant!
    How big is your patch of Houttuynia? I RUE the day I planted mine. It has taken over the bed I planted it in and is marching out into the lawn and field 20 feet in all directions. It smells awful and is impossible to eradicate (I’ve tried numerous times, even sifting the soil!). It is the new goutweed!

    1. I also RUE the day Eliza…it is in my shade garden along 1/2 of the back of the house. I will be attacking it a bit this year and more in the coming years….ugh!

  8. Great vases…but also many thanks on the plant profile. I have some growing in the shady area of the garden, but here in the UK it may not be a native!

  9. We used to call that dicentra ‘Dutchman’s breeches’ for obvious reasons. here in the uk the native form of wild dicentra is yellow, and one of the fumareacea. It grows up crumbly old walls and seeing that it can take over, I keep it curtailed.
    BTW, you are sporting some unusual mocaics. I hope that you are aware that I have a special website to display floral mosaics 🙂 and I would love to have your company there.

    1. Sounds like a lovely dicentra growing there….I will check out your floral mosaics! Thanks for letting me know.

  10. Your delphiniums are delectable – but your frothy vase is fizzing like a champagne cocktail at Annabelle’s party!

  11. Both vases sing of summer, Donna! I’ve always loved delphiniums, which were one of the flowers I most longed to grow in the days before I had a garden. As you might guess, they’re not happy on a restricted water diet so, although the plants are sold locally, I no longer even try to plant any. I may try growing Nigella from seed one year, though – the flowers are fascinating. As to summer wildflowers, if there are any that bloom during the height of summer here, I’m unaware of them! Even California poppies and wild lupine are mostly gone before the start of summer here.

    1. My CA poppies still bloom here but that is because they are lulled to think it is spring in CA. Nigella are wonderful…such a rare flower with very cool foliage….glad you enjoyed the vases Kris!

  12. Always, such beautiful flowers in the garden and in arrangements, as well! So lovely nature in summer! Have a very good and pleasant week ahead!

  13. Wow, I envy those Delphiniums, just beautiful as is the arrangement. I killed more than my share of Bleeding Hearts when gardening further north.

  14. How fun you are writing about Dicentras – I absolutely love them and this year I have got some baby Dicentra cucullaria from a fellow blogger who owns the national collection of Dicentra here in UK. I hope they will be nice little plants by next spring. I have got native cucllaria, ‘Pink Punk’ and ‘Pittsburg’. I also have Dicentra formosa ‘Bacchanal’ in addition to the usual Lamprocapnos spectabilis varieties. I think they are excellent plants with a long interest. Thanks for sharing all the info!
    And finally, your vases are as exquisite as usual, loved the little, simple one with white flowers.

    1. Wow you do have quite a collection of Dicentra Helene….and a Dicentra cucullaria from a national collection too. They are native here and such a treat to see blooming in early spring.

  15. I added some more bleeding hearts this spring, Donna. They are not native but doing well. Love your vases — I should participate as I place cut flowers everywhere including on tables outside in the garden. We leave for Cape Cod on Sunday and your wedding trip is coming up. Don’t suppose we can hook up though. One of these days I’m going to surprise you with a visit …
    Pam x

    1. Sadly no we will not be able to hook up due to the wedding commitment Pam….but I am looking forward to visiting with you one day soon. Maybe by then I will have my garden looking like a garden again and not a roadside!

      Enjoy your trip to the Cape and yes you should participate in the Vase meme!

  16. A bleeding heart that stays evergreen all summer? This native certainly sounds appealing, especially since the hummers like it as well. Your arrangements are beautiful as always; I may steal your idea for the daisies and Queen Anne’s Lace. I just noticed all the Queen Anne’s Lace and chicory blooming along the roadsides everywhere I went yesterday; I love that combo!

  17. My wild bleeding heart was overwhelmed by the Persicaria ‘Lance Corporal’ that took over. This is a nice reminder to reintroduce it somewhere where it will have less competition.

    1. That is the trick, making sure it is not overwhelmed….I have to choose a site carefully for just that reason.

  18. That wild bleeding heart is really gorgeous! I find these much prettier than the giant garden centre cultivars. Also love the delphinium vase. Wish I had space for the big ones! Is your Nigella from a mix?

  19. I do admire your delphiniums and hydrangea mix. That’s a particularly nice blue. Intersecting to read about the wild bleeding heart.

      1. Donna, I’m having a time with spell checker changing what I’ve typed. “Intersecting to read” must have made you roll your eyes. Have a good week.

  20. I didn’t know about this plant Donna.. Since I am going to put in all new beds in the front next year and add to the shade garden in the back I have lots to think about. Thank you for your comment on my post…You are correct and I did send a list of plants to the town and the matter is closed as they said.. No sticker for good behavior or anything…. Michelle

    1. Well I am glad it is closed…that was ridiculous. And this is a great native plant for your garden Michelle.

  21. This is a great plant! And it blooms so much longer than the Asian bleeding heart (which I also love). Mine started blooming in early May and is just now starting to fade. Thanks, as always, for all the background information. 🙂

  22. Those bleeding hearts are even more scrumptious than the Asian ones I think. I don’t know if they would adapt in my hot garden. Maybe I’ll try them one day. I know the Asian ones hate it here. Heck, right now, I hate it here too. Love your vase arrangement too Donna.~~Dee

  23. This is a plant that I should consider for my Serenity Garden, where a number of the original plants are not thriving (I think because they don’t get enough sun — well that and fact that the deer eat them). Thanks for featuring it and getting it onto my radar.

  24. I grow many native wildflowers, but Bleeding heart isn’t one of them! It’s not happy here, but, I do think it’s lovely. Right now the Joes, Susans and Phlox are getting all the attention.

    1. Oh that is too bad Gail…. Joe, Susan Phlox, Hyssop, Boneset with Echinacea are dancing in my garden right now! Love all our natives….thanks for stopping by!

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