Bleeding Hearts are primarily plants of the Dicentra genus, although the Common Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is also included within the Bleeding Heart Family. These plants are perennials and their natural habitat is shady wooded areas.
Bleeding Heart flowers are truly unique, blooms are heart-shaped and dangle gracefully from their stems, flower color ranges from pink, red, white, and yellow. Plant size varies between species, but ranges from 6 inches to three feet tall, care needs also vary depending on the species.
These plants are toxic and all parts can cause severe discomfort if ingested. Additionally, contact with the foliage can cause skin irritations, therefore, gloves and other protective gear are recommended when handling.
Despite this, Bleeding Heart plants are a firm favorite for many gardeners, and with so many beautiful varieties and cultivars to choose from, it’s easy to see why.
Stunning Bleeding Heart Plant Varieties Every Gardener Needs to Know
#1 Common Bleeding Heart (L. spectabilis)
Originating from East Asia, the Common Bleeding Heart (formerly known as Dicentra spectabilis), is a well-known favorite within the Bleeding Heart family. This shrub grows up to 3 feet tall and has evenly spaced out heart-shaped flowers dangling from arching stems.
Flowers are pink, with white, pendulum-like stamens hanging from the tips of the hearts. They bloom once a year, from late spring to early summer, and will remain as beautiful, green bushes provided they are not exposed to too much heat or sunlight.
#2 Alba (L. spectabilis)
This cultivar of the Common Bleeding Heart shrub has beautiful all-white blooms which are very striking against the luscious green leaves.
#3 Gold Heart (L. spectabilis)
Common Bleeding heart “Gold Heart” has pink blooms with white inner petals and stamens, but golden-yellow foliage rather than green.
#3 Pearl Drops (L. spectabilis)
Common Bleeding Heart “Pearl Drops” has elongated heart-shaped flowers which are white, flushed with pale pink. The inner petals surrounding the stamen are also white and pale pink. Foliage is a silvery blue-green color with fern-like leaves. Flowers hang in clusters from the tips of branches rather than along arched branches.
#4 Valentine (L. spectabilis)
This variety aptly named “Valentine” has scarlet heart-shaped flowers with white inner petals and stamens. The rich red flowers contrast well against the green foliage.
#5 White Gold (L. spectabilis)
Similar to the Common Bleeding Heart shrub “Alba”, White Gold has pure white blooms, however, this variety has golden-yellow leaves and stems.
#6 Squirrel Corn (D. canadensis)
Dicentra canadensis, also known as Squirrel Corn, is a species native to the rich forests of central and eastern North America. Growing up to 12 inches tall stems rise above the low-lying foliage and are adorned with a cluster of 4-8 fragrant flowers hanging from the tip.
Flowers are an elongated heart shape, with the tips almost “peeled back” to reveal a short stamen. Blooms are white with purple-tinged bases, and leaves are blue-green with a lacy appearance. This plant is clump-forming and readily self-seeds in the right conditions. It is deer and rabbit resistant but can attract mice and chipmunks.
#7 Dutchman’s Breeches (D. cucullaria)
Dutchman’s Breeches is a wildflower native to North America. Also known as Stagger Weed in some parts due to the drunken effect it has on grazing cows, it is a common plant throughout the eastern US. Its habitat is very similar to another Bleeding Heart plant, Squirrel Corn, and these two species can often be found growing close together.
This plant is named after the unique shape of its flowers, which resemble a pair of upside-down pantaloons, historically worn by Dutchmen. Leaves are green and fern-like with leafless stalks rising above the foliage. Fragrant, white flowers hang in clusters from the tips of the stalks. Plants grow up to 10 inches high and spread easily to cover larger areas.
#8 Pink Punk (D. cucullaria)
This variety of Dutchman’s Breeches grows up to 8 inches tall, has pale pink, yellow-based flowers, and gray-green foliage. It prefers neutral to slightly alkaline soils and is hardy to USDA zones 3-7.
#9 Pittsburg (D. cucullaria)
Pittsburg grows up to 11.5 inches tall and has similar care needs to Pink Punk. Its flowers are pink, with red and yellow bases. Foliage is gray-green throughout spring and summer.
#10 Fringed Bleeding Heart (D. eximia)
Dicentra eximia, or the Fringed Bleeding Heart, is a flower native to the Appalachian Mountains of the US. Typically found on mountain ledges or forest floors, this plant can grow up to 1.5 feet high.
Foliage is gray-green and fern-like, with clusters of drooping, deep pink flowers rising above the foliage from leafless stems. Blossoms are elongated and heart-shaped with purple tips. Flowering begins in early spring and may stop if temperatures get too high during summer, however, they may bloom again as temperatures drop in late summer to early fall.
#11 Pacific Bleeding Heart (D. formosa)
The Pacific or Western Bleeding Heart plant is native to western North America and is found in moist, wooded areas ranging from British Columbia down to California. Perfect as ground cover or for rock gardens, plants have gray-green foliage and readily self-seed under optimum conditions.
Flowers are pink and heart-shaped with purple flushed tips. They hang as clusters from a leafless stem, with up to 10 flowers per inflorescence. These plants can grow up to 18 inches tall, and bloom from early spring through to mid-summer, with the possibility of a second bloom once temperatures cool down in late summer to early fall.
#12 Bacchanal (D. formosa)
This award-winning variety (Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society), grows up to 18 inches tall and has deep purple-red, heart-shaped flowers.
#13 Langtrees (D. formosa)
This flower is a creamy white tinged with pink. It grows up to 12 inches tall and flowering occurs from late spring to early summer.
#14 Moorland Pearl (D. formosa)
Moorland Pearl has gray-green foliage and pale pink heart-shaped flowers which emerge in spring. Hardy to USDA zones 3-7, this variety has similar care needs to the Pacific Bleeding Heart plant.
#15 Spring Magic (D. formosa)
Spring Magic, a cultivar from Britain, has soft rose-pink flowers and gray-green leaves. Valued for its long blooming season, flowering begins in late spring. The formation of new buds can be increased by regularly removing faded flowers. In cooler regions, this variety can tolerate direct sun.
#16 Yellow Bleeding Heart (D. macrantha)
Originating from China, the Yellow or Chinese Bleeding Heart plant is a spreading perennial hardy to USDA zones 7-11. Growing up to 24 inches tall, this plant has yellow-green toothed leaves and stems.
Flowers are almost fishtail-shaped, pale creamy yellow, and can grow up to 3 inches long. This plant blooms in late spring and prefers partially shaded sites which are sheltered from the wind.
#17 Sierra (D. nevadensis)
This plant is endemic to California. It is found growing in meadows at elevations of 7,200 – 10,200 feet.
Blooming occurs June – August, and flowers are white to pale yellow, with a flushed pink base. Foliage is fern-like and feathery, with plants reaching up to 18 inches in height.
#18 Short-horn Steer’s Head (D. pauciflora)
Short-horn Steer’s head is a flower native to California and Oregon. It is a short variety, only growing up to 4 inches tall, and found in mountainous regions growing in gravelly soils.
This perennial wildflower blooms from late April through to early August. It has pink to purple flowers tinged with white. The two outer petals curve outwards away from the tip of the flower, while the two narrow, inner petals extend downwards in a pendulum-like manner.
The specific epithet “pauciflora” means “few-flowered”. This species is less showy than other Bleeding Heart types such as L. spectabilis.
#19 Yellow Bleeding Heart Vine (Dactylicapnos scandens)
Formerly in the Dicentra genus, the Yellow Bleeding Heart Vine or Golden Tears is a climbing perennial suited to USDA zones 4-8. This vine is perfect for growing up walls or trellises and can reach a height of up to 15 feet.
Flowers are long elongated heart shapes, bright yellow, occasionally purple-tipped and hang in clusters from stems. They emerge from mid-spring to late summer.
#20 Long-horn Steer’s Head (D. uniflora)
This plant is native to the western US and found in gravelly soils on mountains at mid-elevation. True to its name, flowers resemble a steer’s head and are pink to white, tinged with purple or light brown.
The specific epithet “uniflora” means “single flowered”, as each stalk only contains one bloom. The plant as a whole is very discreet and often hard to spot as it stands only 4 inches tall, and flowers are smaller than an inch.
#21 Adrian Bloom (Hybrid)
This is a compact Bleeding Heart cultivar, only reaching up to 12 inches in height. Foliage is fern-like and gray-green. Rich pink heart-shaped flowers rise above the ground from single stems where they hang in clusters.
#22 Amore Pink (Hybrid)
Amore Pink has a long blooming season spanning from late spring to late summer. This plant grows in compact clumps and has an impressive number of flowers. Blooms are soft pink and foliage is blue-green.
#23 Amore Rose (Hybrid)
Like Amore Pink, this is a compact clump-forming plant. Bright pink flowers rise high above the blue-green leaves, hanging in clusters from reddish-brown stems.
#24 Aurora (Hybrid)
This Bleeding Heart cultivar is fast-growing and compact. It grows up to 12 inches tall and has arching stems from which sprays of cream-white flowers dangle. These make excellent cut flowers and may attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
#25 Bountiful (Hybrid)
Bleeding Heart “Bountiful” has purple-pink flowers and gray-green foliage. Hardy to USDA zones 4-8, this clump-forming plant grows up to 12 inches tall. It flowers in late spring and can bloom intermittently through to early fall.
#26 Burning Hearts (Hybrid)
This stunning cultivar has deep rose-red flowers lined with white. Its delicate ferny, blue-gray leaves make it easily recognized in any garden. Primary bloom is from April-June, with extended flowering continuing yet slowing as temperatures rise. Re-bloom may occur in late summer to early fall as temperatures cool. This cultivar was bred in Japan.
#27 Filigree (Hybrid)
Bleeding Heart “Filigree” has pinnate gray-green leaves, with upright stems bearing sprays of hanging red-pink flowers. Hardy to USDA zones 4-8 this plant is good for attracting and feeding bees.
#28 Ivory Hearts (Hybrid)
First discovered in Japan in 1990, this hybrid of D. eximia and D. peregrina forms low mounds with ferny blue-gray leaves. White heart-shaped flowers dangle in clusters from leafless stems. Blooming behavior is similar to Bleeding Heart’s “Burning Hearts”.
#29 King of Hearts (Hybrid)
King of Hearts is more sun and heat-tolerant than other Bleeding Heart varieties. It can withstand full sun and has an extended blooming time (late spring to early fall) in the cooler parts of its range (USDA zones 5-9). Flowers are rich rose pink with feathery blue-green foliage.
#30 Luxuriant (Hybrid)
This award-winning cultivar (Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society), grows up to 15 inches tall and tolerates sunny sites if the soil is kept moist. Flowers are cherry red, and blooms can persist from spring through to fall.
#31 Stuart Boothman (Hybrid)
Bleeding Heart “Stuart Boothman” is an award-winning cultivar (Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society). It is a spreading plant with gray-green foliage and arching singular stems with sprays of deep pink flowers.
See more: Bleeding Heart Meaning
Charmaine Delmatier (2016), Steer’s Head (Dicentra uniflora), https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/Dicentra-uniflora.shtml
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Dicentra cucullaria, https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=dicu
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Dicentra formosa, https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=DIFO
Missouri Botanical Garden, Dicentra ‘Burning Hearts’, http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=269943&isprofile=1&gen=Dicentra
Royal Horticultural Society, Lamprocapnos spectabilis Bleeding Heart, https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/293049/lamprocapnos-spectabilis/details
~ image source: depositphotos/pikaneo