How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Bleeding Heart Vine

Bleeding heart vines are a wonderful tropical plant that produces unique white and red flowers. This tender perennial can be grown outdoors in warm climates or grown in containers and brought indoors in cooler climates. It looks stunning on a trellis as well as hanging baskets. Gardening expert Kelli Klein explains how to care for this vine both indoors and out.

A bleeding heart vine displays luscious green leaves and vivid white and red flowers, basking in the warm sunlight, creating a picturesque scene of natural beauty.


The common name bleeding heart comes from the red flowers that look like a heart or blood dripping down from a white calyx. This vining version grows quickly and aggressively, which results in a beautiful backdrop of shiny green foliage and striking flowers for your garden. It can be grown on an arched trellis, along a chain link fence for extra privacy, allowed to spill over the edge of a raised bed, or trailing out of a hanging basket

Bleeding heart vines require moderate care. They require consistent water and pruning, but they are worth it! Make sure to prune them after they flower, before they form seed pods, unless you want them to spread. 


A close-up reveals delicate white and red bleeding heart flowers, contrasted against blurred green leaves in the background, evoking a serene yet vibrant garden scene.
The bleeding heart vine is a perennial plant from the Lamiaceae family.
Plant Type Perennial
Family Lamiaceae
Genus Clerodendrum
Species Clerodendrum thomsoniae
Native Area Tropical West Africa
Exposure Partial shade
Height 10-15′
Watering Requirements Moderate
Pests and Diseases Mealybugs, spider mites, powdery mildew
Maintenance Moderate
Soil Type Well-drained rich in organic matter
Soil pH Acidic, neutral

What Is Bleeding Heart Vine?

The bleeding heart vine, Clerodendrum thomsoniae, is also known as bleeding glory-bower or bagflower. It is grown as an ornamental and admired for its beautiful bi-colored flowers. It is a tender perennial. Grow it outdoors as a perennial in USDA growing zones 9-11. In other zones, it can be grown as an annual or will need to be brought indoors during the winter. 

This vine grows aggressively and can reach heights of 10 feet in a single growing season. There is some debate as to whether this plant belongs in the Lamiaceae or Verbenaceae family. Either way, it produces unique flowers and creates a stunning visual effect in the garden when allowed to climb a trellis or spill over the edges of containers. 


A cluster of delicate pink flowers adorns the vine, standing out vividly against a backdrop of green leaves and the textured bark of a tree trunk.
The species name honors the missionary and plant collector Reverend William Cooper Thomson.

Bleeding heart vine has been cultivated in the tropics and subtropics around the world for its ornamental qualities. The genus name Clerodendrum is derived from the Greek words ‘kleros’, meaning ‘chance’, or ‘fate’, and ‘dendron’, meaning ‘tree’. The species name ‘thomsoniae’ is in honor of Reverend William Cooper Thomson, a missionary, physician, and plant collector in Nigeria. 

Native Area

Purple and white vine blossoms drape amidst green leaves, their delicate petals forming an elegant contrast against the verdant backdrop of lush foliage.
This West African vine has spread globally and become naturalized in various locations.

This tropical vine is native to West Africa. It has since spread around the world and become naturalized in several areas, including the Guiana Shield, Belize, the United States, the Galapagos Islands, and Australia.

In its native area, this vine is accustomed to hot, humid, and consistently moist conditions. For this reason, it thrives in tropical and subtropical regions, which is why it has easily become naturalized in the above-mentioned areas. 


A close-up of a vibrant pink  flower, accompanied by delicate purple buds, amidst a backdrop of softly blurred green leaves, capturing the essence of spring's tender beauty.
Bleeding heart vine’s white calyx and dark red corolla flowers appear in clusters.

This tropical vine produces a white calyx from which emerges a dark red corolla which resembles a bleeding heart. The flowers appear in clusters of 8-20 per grouping, which are surrounded by dark green, shiny foliage.

If the flowers are pollinated, they will produce a fruit. These fruits are not edible and are toxic to both humans and pets. So it’s best to make sure these vines are planted out of reach of pets and small children. The fruits will, however, contain seeds that can be collected if you’d like to propagate your plants. Birds will sometimes eat the seeds and spread them around for you! 


A vine adorned with vibrant pink and deep green leaves showcases nature's contrast, embodying both passion and serenity in its colorful foliage.
It enhances vertical structure on trellises and looks stunning in raised beds.

This tender perennial is used in garden landscaping as an ornamental. Growing it on an arched trellis can add vertical structure to your garden. It also looks stunning spilling over the edges of raised beds or hanging pots. They do well in partial shade and can be grown around the base of trees and allowed to sprawl as a ground cover. 

Where To Buy

A bleeding heart vine with white flowers stands gracefully among sunlit green plants, its delicate blooms contrasting vividly against the lush backdrop, a serene scene of natural elegance.
The plant is hard to find locally unless you live in a tropical region.

This tropical plant can be easily found online through various retailers. It will be harder to find locally at nurseries or big box stores unless you live in a tropical or subtropical region. If you happen to know someone with an established plant willing to lend you a cutting or seeds, you can propagate your plant (more on that later!) 


Potted plants with delicate white blooms, thrive outdoors amidst a backdrop of blurred brick walls and lush, wild weeds, creating a charming contrast of urban and natural elements.
Use a trellis for climbing or prune for a bushy growth habit.

It’s best to plant this vine in the spring. If you’re in a cooler climate, then be sure to wait until all threats of frost have passed. To prepare the planting site, dig a hole as deep as its original container and at least twice as wide. Place your vine into the hole and backfill with compost.

Provide your plant with a trellis or other structure to climb. Alternatively, you may choose to let it sprawl across the ground and act as a ground cover. You can also prune the plant regularly to give it a more bushy growth habit. 

How to Grow

Bleeding heart vines require a moderate level of maintenance. They require consistent watering and regular pruning. There are a few ways to grow this plant, which include growing it outdoors, indoors, or a combination of the two. For this reason, some of the growing requirements will differ depending on whether you are growing indoors or outdoors. Read on to learn how to provide this vine with its ideal growing conditions. 


A close-up showcasing bleeding heart flowers, their delicate petals drenched in vivid hues of red and white, evoking a sense of tender vulnerability and striking beauty in nature's palette.
Bleeding heart vines thrive in partial sun outdoors and bright, direct light indoors.

When grown outdoors, the vines do best in partial sun. Full sun tends to be too intense and causes plants to dry out too quickly. In its native habitat, it is generally an understory plant, so it is adapted to surviving in partial shade or dappled sun conditions.

When grown indoors, provide a spot with bright, direct light. That is because the sunlight that makes it through your window and into your house will be weaker than the sunlight this plant would receive outdoors. 


Wet leaves hang, dripping beside delicate flowers against a blurred backdrop of a gray house and green foliage, evoking a sense of tender beauty and serenity.
Tropical plants require reduced watering during their winter dormant period.

These tropical plants require consistent moisture. A mature and established vine can require up to three gallons of water per week during the hottest and driest parts of the summer. Feel the soil around the base of the plant to determine if it needs more water.

You don’t want the soil to dry out completely, but you also don’t want the soil to become waterlogged or soggy. It should be consistently moist. During winter dormancy, these plants will only require water twice a month. 


A pointed finger gestures towards a mound of fertile, brown soil, bathed in radiant sunlight, hinting at the promise of growth and abundance in the nurturing warmth of the sun.
Ensure well-drained, slightly acidic soil rich in organic matter.

Bleeding heart vines require well-drained soil. Waterlogged soils can cause fungal issues and rot. Soil should be rich in organic matter and slightly acidic with a pH between 5.5-6.5. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types including loamy and sandy as long as it is well-draining and amended with organic matter. 

Temperature and Humidity

Vivid red and purple blooms contrast with the glossy green foliage of a bleeding heart plant, creating a striking display of color and texture in a garden or floral arrangement.
Bleeding heart vines thrive in medium to high humidity.

These tropical plants do best with medium to high humidity levels of around 50%. When grown indoors, they will benefit from a humidifier nearby. Their ideal temperatures during the growing season are between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 27 degrees Celsius).

Temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) are too low for bleeding heart vines to survive. If you live in an area that receives temperatures below 45 degrees, then you can either grow this plant as an annual or grow it in a container that can be moved indoors once the cooler weather sets in. 


A close-up of a hand in blue glove grasping peat moss, its texture rich and organic, bathed in sunlight's warm glow, revealing earthy hues and intricate patterns.
Add organic matter to the soil in spring if you want to provide an extra boost.

This plant grows aggressively on its own, so fertilizing is optional. Organic matter added to the soil in the spring is more than enough for this plant to thrive. However, if you’d like, you can use an organic granular balanced fertilizer in the spring to give it a boost once it comes out of winter dormancy. Be sure not to fertilize near the end of the season so it can properly enter dormancy. 


A delicate cluster of lavender and white flowers, embraced by lush green leaves, exuding tranquility and grace, evoking a serene garden scene in full bloom.
Pruning after blooming controls the vine’s spread and promotes bushy growth.

Prune back vines after blooming if you want to control the spread. Blooms appear on new growth and for that reason, it’s best to wait until your plant has finished blooming for the season. As mentioned above, if flowers are pollinated, they will produce fruits that contain seeds and the seeds can spread this plant around your garden.

These vines can withstand a hard prune, so don’t be afraid to give it a haircut. This will help keep overall growth in check as well and provide an opportunity to control the overall shape. Alternatively, you can continually prune this plant throughout the growing season to force it into a more bushy growth habit rather than letting the vines sprawl. 

Growing In Containers

A potted bleeding heart plant featuring delicate white and red flowers nestled amid lush, veined leaves, showcasing its intricate beauty and natural elegance in a tranquil setting.
Potted plants require periodic repotting every two years based on signs like root protrusion.

Yes, it can be grown in containers. In cool climates, it can be grown outdoors during the warmer months and then brought indoors over the winter. When growing in a container, keep an eye on the overall plant size.

It will need to be potted up every two years. If the roots are sticking out of the bottom of the pot or if you notice a lack of new growth, then these are signs that it’s time to transplant into a bigger pot. If the soil can no longer absorb water, this is another sign of root-binding.


A close-up of white bleeding heart flowers against a blurred background of intricately veined leaves, showcasing nature's intricate beauty in a serene botanical composition.
Place trimmed stem in water or moist soil until roots develop.

The seeds can be collected and replanted. Allow the fruits to fully dry on the vine, then break open the pods to reveal the seeds. Seeds germinate in soil temperatures around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) and do best after a period of cold stratification. Give them four weeks spent below 40 degrees (4 degrees Celsius), and then plant them out to get the best germination rates. Seeds should germinate within two weeks. 

Bleeding heart vines can also be propagated from cuttings. Using a sharp pair of pruning shears, take a four-inch cutting just below a leaf node. Remove the leaves from the bottom two inches of the stem. Place your cutting into a glass of water or directly into moist soil. Keep water propagated cuttings submerged, or keep soil consistently moist and new roots should appear within two weeks. Then your cutting is ready to be planted! 

Common Problems

Bleeding Heart Vine does not suffer from many issues since it is an aggressive grower once established. However, there are a few issues to look out for. 

Lack of Flowers

A delicate white bleeding heart blossom, set against vibrant glossy leaves, all bathed in a warm, golden glow from the sun's gentle rays, creating a serene natural scene.
Inadequate sunlight may lead to insufficient flowering in plants.

A lack of flowers indicates that your plants are not receiving enough sunlight. Although this vine can tolerate partial sun, too much shade can lead to an underwhelming bloom. If you notice a lack of flowers, this is a good indicator that you need to move this plant to a sunnier location, particularly if you’re growing your plant indoors and notice lackluster blooms.

Indoors, move your plants closer to a window with bright direct light. Outdoors, you’ll need to dig up your plant or move its container to a sunnier spot. 


A close-up of spider mites, tiny pests with translucent bodies, crawling amidst delicate threads of their web, weaving intricate patterns as they move.
Combat mites or mealybugs on plants by using water spray.

Spider mites can be an issue, especially for indoor-grown bleeding heart vines. These pests prefer a warm, dry environment with low humidity, which is the natural environment in most houses. Keeping the environment around your plants humid is a good preventative measure. The signs of mites will appear as tiny holes in the leaves or small yellow spots on the foliage. You might notice web clusters on the leaves as well. 

Mites can be removed with a forceful spray of water or wiping down leaves with a damp cloth. Insecticidal soap or other organic insecticides can be used for more severe infestations. Alternatively, if the weather allows, bring the plant outdoors and let the pests’ natural predators handle the problem for you.

Mealybugs also leave behind a cottony or webby mass on the undersides of leaves. They can also be treated with the above-mentioned methods or insecticidal soaps. 


A green leaf with a delicate layer of white powder, indicating the presence of powdery mildew, a common fungal disease on plants, often causing discoloration and damage to foliage.
Prevent powdery mildew by avoiding overhead watering and enhancing air circulation.

Powdery mildew is a white powdery substance that appears on the undersides of leaves. It is followed by yellowing foliage that eventually dies, resulting in the plant’s eventual death. Powdery mildew thrives in damp, cool conditions.

As a preventative measure, avoid overhead watering your plants and increase air circulation around them. If caught early, you can remove infected leaves before they spread. Since this is an aggressively vigorous plant, smaller infections of powdery mildew don’t involve plant death.

Final Thoughts

This tropical plant is quite adaptable to a variety of soil types. Although it requires moderate water and pruning, it is flexible enough to be grown in a container and brought indoors, where it will be just as happy as when it is grown outdoors. This way, it can be grown as a perennial in most zones. Once you see its unique flowers for yourself, this fast-growing vine is sure to find a permanent place in your garden

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