Although Dicentra spectabilis is still the oft-used scientific name for the Bleeding heart plant, it has been reclassified as Lamprocapnos spectabilis.
Bleeding heart is a hardy herbaceous perennial native to China, Japan, Korea, and Siberia.
It has long been a popular plant with gardeners due to its arching racemes of graceful heart-shaped flowers that it displays in the spring.
Dicentra spectabilis by Larsjuh
Nowadays, the Dicentra genus has just eight members, with spectabilis moved to become the only member of the Lamprocapnos genus. As a member of the 770 species strong Papaveraceae family it is closely related to species such as Papaver (Poppy) , Argemone, Glaucium, Corydalis (Fumitory), Eschscholzia, and Meconopsis.
In the garden, Dicentra spectabilis is a great plant to grow in shady and woodland areas. Though usually grown as border plants, they can be grown in mass through a loose ground cover, beneath shrubs, or in containers.
They are fairly rabbit and deer resistant, and they make an attractive cut flower.
In addition to the wild-type, which has pink outer and white inner-flowers and green leaves, cultivars with completely white flowers ‘alba’, cherry red flowers ‘Valentine’, and yellow leaves ‘Golden heart’ are also available.
Bleeding hearts plants reach heights of 29 to 40 inches (75—100 cm), and have a spread of around 20 inches (50 cm). It typically takes two to five years for plants to attain their full height. Dicentra spectabilis are compact, clump forming, carrying short lasting mid-green compound leaves, these are three lobed.
Bleeding Heart Plant by Chris Parfitt, CC
Plants bloom in the spring with approximately twenty, one inch long (2.5 cm), flowers attached to arching racemes. These are bi-colored. Deep pink petals on the outside, with white inner petals. The plant gets its name ‘Bleeding heart; from the shape of its nodding flowers: the outer petals are heart shaped, while the inner white petals appear as a drop (or tear) below it.
Dicentra spectabilis Alba cultivar by Leonora Enking
Once blooming has completed, usually by early summer, the plant will quickly die back to its roots.