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Dicentra

Dicentra - Bleeding Heart.

Attractive plants for open shade to full sun in areas with cool summers. Long lived plants with nice foliage and hanging flowers, grow in moisture retentive soils but not wet soils, some species spread underground, forming large spread-out clumps. Best blooming in mid to late spring with some flower production in mid summer. There were around 20 species of annuals and perennials in the genus. Now 17 species have been moved out of Dicentra into 4 other genera including: Dactylicapnos with 13 species of herbaceous climbers with yellow flowers native to Himalaya to SW China, Lamprocapnos with 1 species (formally Dicentra spectabilis) of leafy herb with large pink flowers in horizontal racemes native to North eastern China and Korea, Ehrendorferia with 2 species of erect robust leafy herbs with yellow or cream erect flowers native to Western North America, and Ichtyoselmis with 1 species of large leafy herb with serrate leaflets and large drooping cream flowers native to China and Burma. The remaining 4 species are native to Asia and North America were they are found in woodlands and on mountains. The perennials species need a period of cool dormancy to grow and flower well. The flower colors include yellow, pink, red, purple and white. They are spring and early summer flowering but many can be forced to bloom earlier or stored and forced for later blooming.

Seeds should be sown as soon as you receive them, since they do not store well. Seeds from fresh lots are set out dry or sent out moist. Thinly cover the seeds and use 4 weeks at 50-75F then move to 20-37F for 5 to 8 weeks, after move to 45-55F for germination. After 10 weeks remove seedlings and move back to 20-37F for 8 weeks then move to 45-55 again for germination. Seeds that have dried go into dormancy that does not always end after the first cold period, and some seeds will germinate the second year also after another cold period. Some people use sulphuric acid to break down the hard seed coat, helping with germination. For most of us the easiest way to germinate these types of seeds is the sow the seeds as soon as we receive them and keep them outside in a sheltered location and each spring remove seedlings as soon as they are large enough to transplant. Freezing and thawing of the seeds in winter and spring seems to help, one can sow the seeds and place them outside in winter for 5 weeks then move them inside in a cool location for germination. Germination results are always on the low end, so we have increased each packet to 100 seeds, costs more but gives you a better chance of getting enough plants to make a nice full display, plants do not normally flower until the second or third year. Grow in open shade with dappled light to part shade, in humus rich soils that drain well but are moist.