can I cut back bleeding heart yet?

debstuart1(z4NH)June 18, 2008


I have a bleeding heart in a small bed beside my house where there used to be shade but due to a fallen tree it's now pretty sunny. The bleeding heart has gotten HUGH and while it is pretty in earlier spring while it blooms, it pretty quickly gets too big for the space and overshadows everything else. I am used to letting it begin to yellow and get ready to go dormant before I cut it back later in the summer. But I would sure like to do that now and free up the bed.

What do you think? Would it survive? does one propagage bleeding heart? I have other places I would like it better!!

thanks for any advice


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It will die back on its own in time so leave it be. I have included a link to propagating bleeding heart.

Here is a link that might be useful: Propagating Perennials

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 10:27PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

If you cut it back before it yellows off, it will come back smaller next year. The problem lies in deciding how early will make it smaller and how early will kill it.
The plant gains mass from it's leaves. Cut the leaves back and it can't make food to grow....cut too much too early and it can't make food to live.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 11:14PM
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If you want babies from it, let the seed pods mature and burst before you cut it back. The look like tiny green beans. Mine has babies every year and I give away the ones I don't need.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 6:43AM
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I kind of go against the rules a lot. I cut mine back a couple of days ago, as I do every year at this time. The reason is, it becomes too big, and overwhelms the area it is in.

It hasn't done mine any harm, at all, to cut it back. It looks nicer now. Not saying it would work for anyone else, though.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 7:53AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

leave it.. just before it is complete yellowed... and ready to disappear.. move it to a space where you can let it do its own thing ...

there are better times to move fall or spring... the only problem is that you cant find them.. or forget to do it.. since they disappeared ... i have one plant i have been meaning to move for 10 years ... lol ..

mark the new spot very well .. as you might forget its there next spring .... or in fall you will plant some bulbs in the middle of it.. been there.. done that


    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 8:52AM
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I have done it all to my bleeding heart and here is my experience.
If you cut back the very long branches and leave the remaining undergrowth behind it will look like a smallish greenish shrub (about 1/2 the size of the original) until it starts to yellow and die back on its own. THEN, cut back the rest.
I cut back most of mine late last year all at the same time because it continued to bloom well into July (mine is in full shade though)and it did not flower well this year at all!
As for moving aware that it is MY experience that they have a tap root similar to lupins and you have to go deep when you move it. The less you disturb the tap root the better chance you have at having it come back again.
That said, they are pretty hardy for the most part.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 9:51AM
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gardengirl_17(z5 OH)

I find Dicentra spectabilis easy to propagate. The crown of the plant is very brittle and most any decent size piece of it will survive if transplanted it. This Spring I moved a very large white bleeding heart that overshadowed one of my husband's favorite dwarf hemlocks. I split it into 5 good size pieces. Three are in my garden and two I gave away. All are doing well. The white one also puts out lots of seedlings for me.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 10:38PM
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Gosh,, thanks all for the different experiences. I am going to do the "cut half of it back" think and then the rest when it yellows and also take a couple of pieces of the crown and propagate. So...all advice taken in one way or another!!!


    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 7:03AM
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Happy2BeeME(4a NH)

Does anyone have any pictures of the seedlings. I don't think I have ever seen any even though mine go to seed every year. I have never noticed any new plants the next year.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 11:24AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I agree with everyone who said to wait to cut it back. But the simplest way to cover its yellowing foliage is to plant something bigger in front of it. Plant something that comes up late, so it wont cover the BH until its done blooming.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 12:07PM
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I planted a Lobelia cardinalis and a Platycodon right next to my Dicentra. Both those are inverted V shapes that widen out at the top so they cover what's below pretty well. I can already see I put them too close and they'll need to be moved before it gets worse but they do cover up the dying Dicentra foliage. In my half shade damp garden that Dicentra foliage hangs on forever - I can't wait for it to finally give up and go.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 11:42AM
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dannie(3b NWO Canada)

In my zone, the foliage stays alive all summer as long as it has enough water. It makes a nice shrub like plant. I do find the white bleeding hearts much sturdier than the pink ones.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 1:10PM
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happytobeeme...I found this site that has a pic of BH seedlings.

Here is a link that might be useful: seedling

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 4:20PM
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