Dicentra spectabilis Valentine 

Dicentra Valentine    Perennial of the Month-- February 2015 Perry caricature

 (pronunciation at link)  (dI-cen' trah  spec-ta' bill-iss) 

Common name:  Valentine bleeding heart

Family:  Fumariaceae, Fumitory

Height x width: 12-24in. high and wide

Growth rate, habit: moderate, open upright with arching stems

Foliage: gray- to purplish-green, alternate, compound, broadly ovate (biternate), trifoliate deeply lobed, leaflets approx. 3in. long and 2in. wide

Flowers:  long sprays of flowers in spring, heart-shaped as with the species but outer petals dark red with white contrasting inner tips, dark burgundy flower stems

Hardiness:  USDA zones 4-8 (perhaps into zone 3 if good snow cover or mild winter)

Soil:  average, organic loam best as woodland soils, consistent moisture best but not wet

Light:  part shade (4-6 hours direct sun daily) to shade (less than 4 hours direct sun), may tolerate full sun in cool climates if sufficient soil moisture

Pests and problems:  none significant

Landscape habit, uses:   shade garden or border, full sun border in cool summer climates; combines well with spring flowers such as primroses, bugloss, forget-me-nots, tulips, bright green ferns, purple or dark-leaved plants such as some Cimicifuga cultivars as Hillside Black Beauty, lady ferns such as 'Lady in Red', carex, columbine

Other interest: unusual and striking new color for this species and more compact; official registered cultivar name is 'Hordival', discovered in 2005 as a seedling (of the species) in a garden (Phyllis and Lyle Sarrazin) in Prince George, British Columbia; rabbit and deer resistant; as with the species, may be toxic if large quantities are eaten, some may experience minor skin irritation from plant sap

Other culture:  dies back later in summer so use care weeding and working around it then

Propagation:  commercially by licensed propagators, USPP 22739, at home by spring division

Sources:  many online and local specialty nurseries

Return to Perry's Perennial Pages