In this article, we will be discovering how to grow Dicentra or Lamprocaphos (Bleeding hearts) in containers. Until recently it was known as Dicentra but it has now been reclassified as Lamprocaphas.
It is a shrub with green fern-like flowers and in spring sprays of little heart-shaped flowers that can be pink, pink-white or white appears. It is a plant for the woodlands as this is its native environment, as it grows under the canopy of trees in forests.
Although it is often grown in flower beds, it makes a good subject in containers, where the hardy plant can be enjoyed mixed amongst spring bulbs. The low growing varieties make useful feature plants when planted in a sheltered, shady spot, where the cold spring winds cannot scorch the leaves.
PLANTING A DICENTRA IN A CONTAINER
As Dicentras can grow up to 1.2m in height, it is best to use a large container as possible (40cm in diameter is ideal). It is best to choose compact varieties, but in truth, all species can be grown as long as you give the plant enough room.
Whatever you can use make sure it has enough drainage holes so that any excess water can be allowed to drain away. Fill the container with enriched, moisture-retentive, multipurpose compost. As long as it has plenty of organic matter, it does not matter what you use.
Dig a hole twice the size of the original root ball and place the plant in at the same level it comes in the original container. Backfill it with growing media and add more compost ensuring that no gaps remain. Firm the plant in and water well to allow the compost to settle.
You have now successfully planted your bleeding heart. On top of the compost add a thick layer of bark chipping (to replicate the forest floor) or cocoa shells. This will not only suppress weeds but will retain water as this is one plant that likes its roots in moisture.
Bleeding hearts like it to be cool and this is why in late summer the plant will go dormant. Do remember this as in late summer you will be left with a bare container. This should not be a bother as it can be moved out of sight to be brought back in spring once the leaves start to grow again.
CARE OF DICENTRA
You must water your bleeding heart frequently during the growing season, so during any dry spells, the plant may need a thorough watering. Although it likes plenty of moisture it does not like its roots to be soggy. This is because it will lead to root rot. The tip to remember is that you must replicate its natural, growing environment as much as possible, moist but never soggy.
Place the container in a position where it does not receive bright sun but either filtered sunlight or a location that give the plant a bit of light shade.
During early spring, you can give it a feed of slow-release fertilizer to give enough nutrients to get it through the growing season. Alternatively, you can give a monthly feed with a liquid-based fertilizer high in potash.
Bleeding hearts go well when planted with hostas and ferns. Plants that enjoy the same growing conditions that bleeding hearts prefers can be used.
Once the plant leaves start turning yellow in late summer, it is best to trim the plant back to the ground. At this time, it is best to replace the empty container with a plant in flower.
PESTS AND DISEASES
Dicentra tends to be pests and diseases free, not suffering from anything in particular. The only disease they tend to suffer from is that if the compost is too dry, it can lead the plant to develop the fungal infection of powdery mildew.
It is better to prevent this from happening in the first place rather than treating the disease itself. This is because the plant naturally dies back in mid to late summer anyway and any treatment that you use will not have much effect.
VARIETIES TO GROW
The varieties that you are likely to find include:
Dicentra Formosa (Wild Bleeding Heart) has deep-rose pink buds borne on branching racemes. The flowers open to a lighter pink.
Dicentra Formosa ‘Alba’ instead of having pink flowers produces white flowers against its glaucous foliage.
Dicentra Formosa ‘Luxuriant’ is a dwarf variety that has red flowers.
Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart) has wonderful heart-shaped, pink to red flowers.
Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ is similar to normal Dicentra spectabilis but instead of having pink blooms, the flowers are white instead.
Dicentra spectabilis ‘Valentine’ is similar to the other but instead, the shoots are plum coloured and the flowers are a deep red. This will make a great addition to the garden.
In this article, we have discussed how to grow Dicentra in containers. They are beautiful shrubs with elegant fern-like leaves and great coloured heart-shaped flowers. They are easy to look after only requiring to be water frequently, fed monthly and be cut back at the end of summer.
They can be in containers for many years before they will need dividing because the roots will have become congested and the plant is root-bound.
A plant that is the main feature in pots in springs.
If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make on growing Dicentra in containers, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy Dicentra growing.