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Bleeding Heart Seeds

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Bleeding heart seeds sprout easily but are sometimes difficult to source. Sometimes called lyre flower for the shape of their petals, the bleeding heart (Dicentra spectablis or Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is widely grown throughout U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 9 for its graceful sprays of pink or white flowers. The flowers add subtle color to shady outdoor areas in summer before fading and giving way to long, pea-like seed pods in late summer or early autumn.

Bleeding heart plants grow best from divisions, but they will also grow from seeds. However, the seeds need a lengthy period of pretreatment to break their dormancy and prompt germination.

Gathering Bleeding Heart Seeds

Bleeding heart flower plants bloom in late spring and early summer, producing 1- to 2-inch-long, heart-shaped flowers along delicate, dropping branches. The flowers fade and are replaced by slender green seed pods in late summer, and each pod contains shiny black seeds. Bleeding heart seeds are ready to gather when the pods swell and look like pea pods. Wear gloves when gathering the seeds because all parts of the bleeding heart plant contain poisonous alkaloids, warns North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension Service.

Bleeding heart seeds germinate most reliably when sown fresh, so don’t wait too long after gathering the seeds to sow them. Break open the pods and pop out the seeds. Each seed has a fleshy white structure on the outside that doesn’t need to be removed and will not inhibit germination. Sheffield’s Seed Company recommends soaking bleeding heart seeds for 12 hours to aid germination.

Starting Bleeding Heart Seeds

Bleeding heart seeds need periods of warm and cold stratification to break their dormancy. The plants have incredibly delicate roots and do not transplant well, so it is best to sow the seeds in a pot of soil where they will grow for one or two seasons rather than starting them in small pots and attempting to transplant them later. Nursery pots with several drainage holes at the base and a volume of 1 gallon work well for starting bleeding heart seeds.

Fill a 1-gallon pot with very moist seed-starting compost to within 1 inch of the top. Sow two or three bleeding heart seeds per pot at a depth of 1/8 inch. Put the pots outdoors in a very warm location, or indoors on a propagation mat set to 75 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 days to warm-stratify. Keep the soil moist during the stratification process. After 30 days, move the pots to a cold location, such as inside a refrigerator, for 60 days.

Bleeding heart seeds germinate at very cool temperatures, ranging from 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the pots in bright, indirect light and keep the compost moist. According to Texas A&M Department of Horticulture, bleeding heart seeds germinate in three to four weeks when kept at temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove all but the most vigorous seedling.

Growing Bleeding Heart Seedlings

Bleeding heart plants grow best in part shade with moist, fast-draining and fertile soil, according to Cornell University Home Gardening. Position the pots outdoors under cool, light shade with shelter from drying wind and direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist, but let the surface dry out between waterings to prevent fungus. Feed the plants with a little fish emulsion diluted in water in early spring to encourage dense growth. Water well after feeding to push the nutrients deep into the soil.

Growing bleeding hearts indoors or in a cool greenhouse during the winter months may be necessary in some colder climates, but they will overwinter outdoors with no trouble in milder areas or in sheltered locations in the garden. Bleeding hearts transplant best after they die back and go dormant in late summer or early autumn. Transplant the plants into a permanent bed or container in the autumn of their second or third year.

Bleeding Heart Seeds. Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.) grows well in lightly shaded areas in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness plant zones 3 though 9 and makes an excellent perennial for rock or wildflower gardens. Plants bear small, pendant flowers in shades of pink, yellow, rose and white. Common bleeding heart …