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How to Breed Bleeding Hearts


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Bleeding heart is a generally hardy perennial flower, blooming from late spring to early summer. Its lacy, green foliage and long stems of graceful, heart-shaped flowers lighten the spirit after a long winter. Planted properly, bleeding heart can grow to shrub-sized proportions, and appear in the same spot each spring for years. Like most perennials, it can be propagated both from seed and by root division.

Difficulty:
Moderately Easy

Instructions

things you’ll need:
  • Garden gloves
  • Spade
  • Shovel
  • Freezer bags
  • Peat pots
  • Potting soil
    1. Divide bleeding heart plants in late summer, when most varieties die back and go dormant. Dig with a shovel or spade in a 12-inch diameter circle around the base of the plant. Pry it up gently, as the roots may be brittle at this stage. Set the root ball on a hard surface, and divide it at the center with a garden spade. Replant half the roots in the original hole, cover with dirt, and water thoroughly.
    2. Choose a location for the other half of the plant that will receive part sun and part shade. Dappled light is best. Dig a new hole to the size of the remaining root clump. Pour water in the bottom of the hole to ease transplant shock. Set the root ball in and cover with dirt. Tamp it down lightly as you go, to remove air spaces around the roots. Water thoroughly.
    3. Gather seedpods from bleeding heart stems when they turn brittle and brown in late summer. Place the pods in a freezer bag and keep them in the freezer for six weeks, to duplicate frozen winter conditions.
    4. Prepare peat pots by filling them with potting soil and moistening them. Take the seed pods out the freezer bag and rub them between your fingers until they crack and release the seeds. Place a few seeds in each peat pot and cover with 1/2 inch of soil. Moisten thoroughly and place in a sunny window.
    5. Keep pots moist and warm until seeds germinate and seedlings appear. Allow soil to dry out between waterings. Transplant outdoors when the final frost has passed, or transplant to larger containers to keep indoors as a houseplant.

Tips & Warnings

  • Look for seedling bleeding hearts at the base of the mother plant each year. Sometimes they can be dug out carefully and moved elsewhere in the landscape.

  • There are many varieties of bleeding hearts. Check with your garden center to be sure your chosen variety will grow in your soil and light conditions.

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