Gardening Magazine

Dicentra Spectabilis ‘Alba’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba' (19/04/2014, Kew Gardens, London)

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ (19/04/2014, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Spring to early summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 1.2m

Eventual Spread: 60cm

Hardiness: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Family: Papaveraceae

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ is a deciduous herbaceous perennial with a clump forming pendulous habit. Its mid green leaves are compound three lobed. Its white flowers appear in racemes, each flower having two distinctive outer petals which form a pouch. Its fruit are plump pods which contain its seed. Its roots are fleshy rhizomes. This plant generally dies down to ground level during the summer months.

Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba' Flower (19/04/2014, Kew Gardens, London)

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ Flower (19/04/2014, Kew Gardens, London)

The species Dicentra spectabilis, commonly known as the Bleeding Heart or Dutchman’s Breeches, is native to Japan, Korea, north China and Siberia. In its native habitat it grows in moist woodlands. Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ is synonymous with Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’.

The etymological root of the binomial name Dicentra is derived from the Greek dis meaning ‘twice’ and kentron meaning ‘spurred’, in reference to the flower shape. Spectabilis is from the Latin meaning ‘outstanding’. Alba is from the Latin meaning ‘white’.

The landscape architect may find Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ useful as a herbaceous perennial suitable for damp dappled shady locations. This plant should be situated carefully as it dies back during the summer months.

Ecologically, Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ flowers are attractive to pollinating insects.

Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba' Leaf (19/04/2014, Kew Gardens, London)

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ Leaf (19/04/2014, Kew Gardens, London)

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ (Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’) their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ prefers moist, humus rich, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ requires little maintenance. Large clumps may be divided in late autumn or early spring.


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