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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Time to split!

Hooray! Yesterday I finally got to dig in the dirt!!!

I've been growing Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) in my garden for many years.
After moving here 11 years ago, I bought a few in boxes from local garden centers in the early spring, planted them in the ground and didn't give them much thought after that. For some reason, I was under the impression that they were finicky to move, I guess I didn't think that out too carefully. If they were finicky, they sure wouldn't have survived being packaged in those little cardboard boxes and loaded on the shelves at the stores.

One bleeding heart had been planted in my driveway, lots of sun, lots of water and lots of composted horse manure. That plant grew to epic proportions! It was just amazing in the spring, more than 6 feet across (2 meters) during peak bloom. The one problem with a bleeding heart of that size is that by mid summer the foliage disappears leaving you with a big hole in that same spot.

Last year I decided to bite the bullet and divide this monster. I dug it up, didn't know what to do with all those carrot-like roots so I snapped them off. I chopped up the pieces with my garden knife until I had pieces that fit into pots and potted them up. Finally, the pots were put in the shade so the plants wouldn't go into total shock. A few weeks later every single pot was full of lush blooming bleeding hearts. I was thrilled!

In the past I had only dug young bleeding heart seedlings. Yes, bleeding hearts will self sow if you leave the seed pods alone. Nobody had told me this and I was so happy the first time I found those distinctive little seedlings.

Both red and white varieties of Dicentra grow here. The red seems to seed more easily but maybe that's because it was the clump in the most sun. I've only found 3 seedlings so far near the white bleeding heart. They've been moved around the garden over the past few years so hopefully more will volunteer to grow here.

Every spring I hold a one day plant sale and invariably people ask if I have any of the white Dicentra for sale. This year I decided to divide up that big clump so I could share it with a few folks.

The first photo shows a close up of the root system on the Dicentra. The second photo shows the emerging foliage on a red Dicentra that seeded next to a clump of daylilies. The third photo shows the foliage of the white Dicentra (the two small pieces I left after removing the large clump). As you can see, it's easy to tell what color the plants are going to be.

Since I still had a wheel barrow half filled with potting soil, I decided to bite the bullet and also try my hand at dividing up the Euphorbia polychroma (Cushion spurge). If you look through my post titles, you'll see that I did a feature on this fantastic perennial.

The photo here is not too exciting, as you can see, I tried to get this divided up before it puts on any growth. That seemed to be successful with the bleeding hearts so I wanted to use the same method.

This last photo shows the clump of Euphorbia on the edge of my work table. The roots were even easier to work with than the Dicentra. So far the plants all look fine in their pots, one reason to be thankful for our cold rainy day.

Hopefully tomorrow I can attempt another perennial and share that here too.

Gotta love that mud!


Gotta Garden said...

Lotta work! You must have the largest bleedings hearts ever! Wow! I just have the basic pink one in a couple spots (blooming now!), but nowhere near as huge as yours. One is in a tough spot and so I am pleased that it even comes back!

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if you know anything about trimming back or pruning bleeding hearts. I have one that is fairly young and has filled out nicely, but now that's it's stopped blooming, it's getting yellow and a little droopy looking. Is that normal? Can I trim it back for next year? Thanks for any input you may have.

FlipFlop Mom said...

Thank you for this... It is soon to be early fall her in NH .. so I will be splitting mine and sharing with others... mine is to huge to let it grow another year... it kind of sucked the life out of some of my other plants planted around it!