Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Dicentra Formosa

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Dicentra formosa (23/03/201, Kew Gardens, London)

Dicentra formosa (23/03/201, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Partial shade

Flowering period: Late spring to summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 45cm

Eventual Spread: 60cm

Hardiness: 4a – 8b

Family: Papaveraceae

Dicentra formosa is a deciduous herbaceous perennial. Its grey/ green leaves are deeply divided. Its pink/ red 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.

Dicentra formosa, commonly known as the Western Bleeding Heart, or Pacific Bleeding Heart, is native to western USA. In its native habitat it grows in moist woodlands.

The etymological root of the binomial name Dicentra is derived from the Greek dis menaing ‘twice’ and kentron meaning ‘spured’, in reference to the flower shape. Formosa is derived from the Latin meaning ‘beautiful’.

The landscape architect may find Dicentra formosa useful as a herbaceous perennial suitable for damp dappled shady locations.

Ecologically, Dicentra formosa flowers are attractive to pollinating insects.

Dicentra formosa Leaf (23/03/201, Kew Gardens, London)

Dicentra formosa Leaf (23/03/201, Kew Gardens, London)

Dicentra formosa prefers moist, humus rich, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It will tolerate poorly drained soils.

Dicentra formosa requires little maintenance. Large clumps may be divided in early spring.

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