Where Should You Plant Bleeding Hearts in Your Garden?

Not sure of the best conditions for your Bleeding Heart Plant? Paige Foley shares what to consider when finding the ideal location for your Bleeding Hearts.

a close up of the heart-shaped magenta blooms of a bleeding heart plant, dangling from the stem in a shady garden.

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Location is everything, whether it’s buying a house or planting a garden. Choosing the right spot for your new plants can be overwhelming. We spend a lot of time and money making our gardens and containers look beautiful. Unfortunately, we have all lost a plant or two because we picked an unsuitable location. Learn where to plant bleeding hearts for the best results in your garden.

This is a versatile plant that will adapt to most conditions. Though they will grow in most locations, they do have preferences that they consider to be ideal.

The location you choose will determine how well your new plants perform. Today, we’ll share where you should plant this spring beauty to achieve maximum foliage and bloom production.

Short Answer

This species blooms in the spring around the same time as tulips. They love cooler temperatures and tend to fizzle out once temperatures become too hot. This happens around mid-summer, but can be later in northern regions.

They are also a shade-loving plant. They perform best in partial to full shade with well-draining, rich soils. Consider planting in the shade of trees, buildings or other tall perennials. Avoid areas of the garden that see afternoon sun, as this sunlight is too intense for them.

Long Answer

There are a few things to consider before you plant bleeding hearts. Choosing the right location is important for their long-term success.

Once established, these perennials are fairly low-maintenance. They quickly adapt to their surroundings and become self-sufficient. Providing the right growing conditions will ensure bleeding heart flowers year after year.

When considering a location, I recommend doing some hands-on research. Study how much or how little the sunlight hits the location. Consider examining or testing the soil to see its quality.

Understanding these key growing factors will help you determine which location is best. Below, we discuss the proper growing conditions to promote healthy growth.

Shade

Close-up of a gardener planting a Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) plant. The gardener's hands, wearing blue-black gloves, are tamping the soil at the base of the plant. Two blue garden trowels are stuck into the soil. Dicentra spectabilis is a perennial plant with small, fern-like leaves and heart-shaped flowers on curved stems. The leaves are dark green in color, have a pinnate appearance, form a lush mound at the base of the plant. The flowers are small, graceful, heart-shaped, pink.
This species thrives in shade.

Finding plants that thrive in shade can be difficult. This plant loves shade and continuously produces heart-shaped blooms during the season. Since they love shade, too much sunlight can cause stunting and may ultimately kill your plant. They can handle partial to full shade, depending on your hardiness zone.

If you live in zones 3 to 5, you can plant in partial to full shade. This plant shouldn’t see more than 5 hours of indirect sunlight per day when planted in partial shade. If planted in more than this, the sunlight can cause the flower and foliage production to decrease.

Plant in full shade in zones 6 to 9. This is because the sunlight and temperatures are more intense in these higher zones. If you are planting in full shade, the plant should see less than 1 hour of direct sunlight per day.

Shady areas of the garden will be cooler than areas with direct sunlight. This spring bloomer will go dormant once temperatures become too hot, but shade will help the flowers last a little longer.

Water

Close-up of Bleeding Hearts flowers covered with water drops. The plant has curved reddish stems with gracefully hanging heart-shaped flowers. They resemble graceful hanging hearts with a single hanging drop. Each flower is made up of two separate parts: the outer, larger, heart-shaped pink petals, and the inner, smaller, white petals that form a protruding "drop" from the bottom of the heart.
This plant prefers moderate watering.

This is a middle-of-the-road kind of plant when it comes to watering. They don’t like excessively wet soils, and they don’t like excessively dry soils.

Shady areas of the garden often hold onto moisture better than sunny areas. This is good news if your soils tend to dry out quickly. If your soils are naturally poorly-draining, shade can make that problem worse.

Avoid planting in soils that don’t drain well and tend to have standing water. These soils can cause fungal diseases that cause conditions like rot root to develop. If you have these soils, adding organic matter may help improve drainage.

Provide at least an inch of water per week to keep them blooming during the spring. Check your soil around the bleeding heart to gauge whether it needs water. The soil should be moist an inch or so under the surface. If it’s already damp, don’t water it more, it’s unnecessary.

Soil

Close-up of a gardener raking soil with a garden shovel near a freshly planted Bleeding Hearts plant. The plant forms a lush mound of feathery dark green foliage. The leaves are intricately divided and have a feathery appearance, reminiscent of fern leaves. The flowers are small, hanging on curving stems. The flowers are composed of outer pink petals forming a heart shape and inner white petals resembling a dangling drop.
This plant thrives in humus-rich soils that are moist and well-draining.

This species is native to woodland areas. Woodland areas naturally have rich, humus soils with abundant organic matter. These areas tend to have moist, well-draining soils as well. It’s ideal to try and mimic their native environment as best as possible.

Your garden soil will play a large factor in how well your plants grow. Avoid compacted soil as this tends to allow water to run off and roots struggle to establish.

Bleeding hearts can handle soil pHs from 6.0 to 7.0 but avoid soils over a pH of 7.0. If the soil is too alkaline, the plant will begin to yellow, become stunted, or possibly even die.

If your soil isn’t rich in organic matter, consider incorporating compost, dead leaves, or manure. Work into the soil before planting to help aeration and loosen the soil for roots to grow. Adding organic matter will improve the overall health of your soil, especially sandy and clay soils, and will add beneficial material for your soil’s microbial population to eat.

Companion Plants

Garden with blooming Bleeding Hearts and hosta. Bleeding Hearts is an adorable perennial with unique flowers and delicate foliage. The leaves are lush, divided, have a feathery appearance, reminiscent of fern leaves. The flowers are small, hanging gracefully from curved stems, they resemble graceful dangling hearts with a single dangling drop. The flowers are pink with white inner petals. Hosta plants are popular and versatile perennials known for their attractive foliage. The leaves are wide, heart-shaped, variegated, cream-colored with a dark green border.
Plant companion flowers that bloom later in the summer like ferns, hostas, and astilbe.

Since these perennials prefer the cool temps of early spring, they go dormant once temperatures become too hot. The flowers no longer bloom, and the plant turns yellow. Because bleeding hearts go dormant so early in the summer, I highly recommend planting with companion plants.

Companion plants fill the gaps so your garden doesn’t look bare once these spring ephemerals are spent. The companion plants should be plants that bloom from mid-summer to late summer.

There are many companion plants to help cover up where the bleeding heart is. Some common plants are ferns, hostas, or astilbe. These plants start to take off just as the bleeding heart finishes growing.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Should I Plant a Bleeding Heart?

It’s best to plant in the spring. They prefer cooler temperatures. You can also plant in early fall a few weeks before the first frost.

Can I Grow Bleeding Hearts In Containers?

Yes! They can be grown in large containers. They have shallow root systems that make them a good option for containers. Keep in mind that they will go dormant once temperatures become too warm.

How Long Will They Bloom This Season?

One of the first plants to emerge after a long winter, these perennials thrive in colder temperatures. The blooms will last until temperatures go above 75° F. Once temperatures are consistently above 75° F, the plant will initiate dormancy. Expect blooms from spring to mid-summer.

Final Thoughts

Bleeding hearts are a versatile plant. When happy with their location, they will bloom for many years without fail. Finding the right location for them may take a little time and patience. But once they are established and growing well, their beautiful heart-shaped blooms will shine year after year.

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