Problems of Bleeding Heart

Foliage Declines In Summer Because Plant Goes Dormant
This normally happens after common bleeding hearts flower in areas with hot or dry summers. If you keep the soil evenly moist, this may not happen, but if the leaves do turn yellow or die down, cut them back to the ground. The plant is not dead, but it will not usually grow make an appearance again until the next spring. It is a good idea to have some annuals or a potted plant to set out to fill in the empty space where the bleeding heart was.

Leaves Curled And Distorted Due To Aphids
Aphids, also called "plant lice," are soft-bodied, pear-shaped sucking insects about the size of the head of a pin. They often cluster on leaves and tender buds, especially on plants that are stressed in some way. Their feeding retards plant growth. Bleeding heart leaves may turn yellow or brown. They wilt under bright sunlight, or sometimes curl and pucker. If a daily forceful water spray from the hose on infested leaves for three days does not discourage them, spray the aphids with insecticidal soap. If the aphids persist, spray all foliage and stems with a pyrethrin/pyrethrum insecticide product. This should eliminate successive aphid generations. Try to determine if your plant is under stress--too dry, too much light--and correct that situation. Click here for more information on Dealing with Aphids.

Ragged Holes In Leaves Mean Slugs or Snails
Slugs are essentially snails without protective shells. They are usually 1 to 2 inches long (some species grow up to 8 inches). They may be white, gray, yellow, or brownish black. Slugs and snails are attracted to moist, well-mulched areas having acidic soil, the same type of environment that bleeding hearts like. They are active at night, rasping holes with their file-like tongues in leaf and stem surfaces. They hide under boards or leaf litter during the day.

The best tool for controlling slugs is a product containing Iron Phosphate. Or trap slugs in a commercial slug trap, or a homemade shallow plate baited with beer and set on the soil near the bleeding-heart plants. The slugs, attracted to the yeast in the beer, climb in and drown. Begin trapping within the first 3 to 4 weeks after the last frost in the spring to kill early arrivals and prevent them from reproducing. Click here for more information on Dealing with Slugs and Snails.

Small Bumps On Leaves And Stems Signal Scale Insects
Scale insects form groups of small bumps or blister-like outgrowths on stems and leaves. These are waxy shells that protect them while they feed. These shells may be white, yellow, or brown to black, and are about 1/10 to 2/5 inch in diameter. The first sign of a scale attack is often discoloration of the upper leaf surface, followed by leaf drop, reduced growth, and stunted plants. Heavy infestations kill plants. Some species excrete honeydew, which coats foliage and encourages ants and sooty mold growth. Scrape minor scale infestations off plant surfaces with a fingernail. Spray all surfaces of heavily infested plants with \"superior\" or light horticultural oil that smothers the scale. Click here for more information on Dealing with Scale.

Foliage Wilts And Dies From Stem Rot
Sometimes a fungus spreads a filmy white coating over bleeding heart stems and foliage. The foliage wilts and shrivels. All you can do is remove the diseased plant together with its soilball, and check for a drainage problem at that location. The soil may be too soggy. Either raise the level of the planting area or add peat moss or other organic matter to lighten the soil so it will drain better. Click here for more information on Dealing with Fungal Disease.

Powdery Spots On Leaves Due To Rust
Rusts are caused by various fungi, which live on plant surfaces and produce yellowish or orange powdery spots on upper leaf surfaces, and fruiting bodies on undersides. Eventually leaves become discolored and shrivel up. Pick off infected leaves and remove any diseased foliage that has fallen on the soil under the plant. Try dividing crowded clumps and spacing them farther apart to improve air circulation. Click here for more information on Dealing with Fungal Disease.

Lower Leaves Yellowed, Shriveled From Fusarium Wilt
This fungus disease attacks the lower leaves and stems of bleeding hearts, then works its way up the plant, eventually killing it. Cut stem surfaces show dark streaks where the fungus has invaded the water-conducting vessels of the plant. Dig up infected plants and discard them in the trash. Do not plant more bleeding heart in this spot. Prevent this disease by keeping plants well fed and watered. For more information see the file on Dealing with Fungal Disease.