Bleeding hearts bloom in early summer with cascading stems laden with miniature heart-shaped blooms in shades of pink, red, yellow or white. Delicate green foliage provides a fern-like background, highlighting blooms and creating a romantic atmosphere. Reaching heights of 2 to 3 feet, these hardy plants survive in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9 and return each year with an abundance of blooms. Once blooming ceases in midsummer, foliage often yellows and dies back and the plant remains dormant until the next spring.
Select a shaded or semi-shaded location for bleeding hearts. Although bleeding hearts will survive in full sun, blooming is inhibited and soil dries quickly in summer sun, causing stress to this moisture-loving plant.
Till the area to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and remove any rocks, roots or other debris.
Test the soil, particularly if you have chosen a new location and are unsure of the needs of your soil. Follow the recommendations accompanying the testing kit to balance nutrients and adjust pH to 7.0.
Add a layer of compost or well-rotted manure to the surface of the soil. Typically, 2 to 3 inches provides adequate organic matter for average soil. If your soil is sandy or dense clay, you may need more organic matter to create loose friable soil. Work compost or manure into the top 4 to 6 inches of the soil.
Remove your bleeding heart from its container and shake gently to remove excess soil. Spread out the roots and place the plant in the hole to its original planting depth. Fill in around the plant with soil and firm down gently to secure the plant.
Water thoroughly to saturate the soil to the root level. Mulch with organic mulch to keep soil moist and suppress weeds. Keep soil moist throughout the summer by watering deeply once a week.
Cut foliage back to 3 to 4 inches in the fall, once it has been killed by the frost, if foliage did not die back in late summer. Mulch with 2 to 3 inches of hay or leaves in late fall to protect roots from harsh winter weather.
Remove mulch in spring when new growth appears. Apply a 2-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure around the base of the plant in spring.