Caring for Bleeding Heart

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Watering Bleeding Hearts
Bleeding hearts need a half-inch to an inch of water per week from regular watering or from rainfall. If rainfall is scarce, check soil moisture just under the soil surface to see if you need to water. If plants are well mulched they will need less frequent watering. Plants bloom longer and keep better foliage if the soil is kept evenly moist, but they won't grow in boggy soils. For information on products see the file on Choosing Watering Equipment

Fertilizing Bleeding Hearts
Bleeding hearts are considered heavy feeders. Besides planting them in soil rich in organic matter such as peat moss, chopped leaves or compost give them an early-spring handful of general-purpose, slow-acting granular fertilizer. Sprinkle this onto the soil around each plant so the rain can soak it in. This will provide consistent nutrition over the season, especially appreciated by fringed bleeding heart that blooms steadily for months. For more information see the file for Choosing Fertilizers

Mulching Bleeding Hearts
To protect and improve the soil around the bleeding hearts spread a 1 or 2 inch layer of some organic material such as chopped leaves, wood chips, shredded bark or dried grass clippings under them. This will also discourage weeds and conserve moisture to reduce watering frequency. Mulch harbors beneficial organisms that enrich your soil as they break down the mulch. Renew the mulch layer as it decomposes. Mulch is especially important during every plant’s first winter in your yard. It minimizes the heaving of the soil due to fluctuations in temperature that may disturb newly planted bleeding heart roots. For more information see the file on Using Mulch

Pruning/Grooming Bleeding Hearts
These charming plants are virtually carefree. Properly sited and planted, they require very little special attention. Cut back the foliage of common bleeding hearts when their foliage ripens, yellows and collapses about mid-summer. Cut back the foliage of fringed bleeding hearts when it yellows about frost time. Deadheading, snipping off the stems that have faded flowers, helps stimulate more blooms and keeps the longer blooming fringed bleeding heart attractive over the summer.

Propagating Bleeding Heart
The easiest way to acquire more bleeding heart plants is to divide the ones you have. After 4 or 5 years they develop into wide clumps. The have large root systems and get crowded. Carefully dig up the thickly massed roots of common bleeding hearts in early spring, just as new growth is beginning. They are very brittle and fleshy. Gently pull them apart in clumps of about 6 inches and set the new plants back in the soil with proper space between them. Discard any obviously aged and withered roots near the center of the original mass.

While fringed bleeding hearts sow their seeds readily and young seedlings turn up around the yard, the easiest way to acquire more fringed bleeding heart plants is to divide the mature ones you have the same way as for common types.