Can you really grow bleeding heart (dicentra) from seed??

perennialfan273(zone 5)December 26, 2009

I'm wondering if you really can grow this plant (the regular and the eximia species in both pink and white) from seed?? I've heard a lot of people say that you can but with a plant like this it just doesn't seem possible. Isn't this a tuberous plant that should be propagated asexually?? Am I wrong in thinking this?? If you really can propagate dicentra from seed, I have a little area on the side of my house that gets shade for about half the day and I think it would look great there.

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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

I don't have exima--only spectabilis..which reseeds quite readily. My friends grow exima from seeds, so it is definitely possible.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 10:02PM
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I have a pink one, not sure the name. I have had it for many yrs, but have never found seeds yet. It will look like its setting little 1" long pods, but these never fill out. Just slender thin green things.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 4:05AM
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ladywindsurfer(Z7 SE)

The only Dicentra eximia that I have is a white-flowered, named cultivar and it has never produced seed. However, the pink and rose-flowered Dicentra formosa, ssp. oregona species seed very freely and I find them growing all about the garden, even in full afternoon sun. In that location, they are summer dormant and reemerge and bloom in the fall.

For some reason, my Old-fashioned Bleeding Hearts, Lamprocapnos(Dicentra) spectabilis, neither the pink or white-flowering ones, has ever produced seedlings and some have been around for 20 years!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 10:44AM
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My white spectabilis did self-sow regularly.
The link below gives an interesting piece of info on the latest in dicentra hybridization:-

Here is a link that might be useful: Japanese Dicentra

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 11:12AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I've never tried to grow any of the Dicentras from seed, but I've got one very large Dicentra spectablis and that has spawned one seedling over the past few years - which was a pleasant surprise.

I've divided my Dicentra eximia into several plants, but it hasn't made any seedlings AFAIK. However I recently read that this species is self-infertile, which means that it requires at least 2 genetically different plants to make fertile seed. So if you have only have 1 plant or 1 cultivar, ie the white one, you won't get viable seed.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 11:17AM
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I winter sowed eximia or formosa(I can't remember which at the moment, but it wasn't spectablis) this past winter. I received seed in a swap. I didn't think I would have any luck since I had read Dicentra seeds need to be kept moist for viability, but I figured why not try. I'm glad I did because that obviously isn't true.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 11:13PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you said: Isn't this a tuberous plant that should be propagated asexually?? Am I wrong in thinking this??


yes you are .... in general.. the only problem with starting a tuber plant from seed... is the number of years it takes for the tuber to mature.. to the point of flowering ....

if the genetics are their.. to have a viable seed [in other words.. they arent mountain kin... lol] .. then all viable seeds .. in theory.. should lead to a plant ....

but i dont know the answer to this specific plant..


    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 10:59AM
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I've grown D. eximia from seed. They're pretty easy. Never tried spectibilis. But have grown formasa.......again easy.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 10:20PM
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Ken is correct :-) Theoretically, if a plant flowers, it can be grown from seed. That is their primary means of reproduction regardless of their root formation. Even true bulbs like narcissus will produce seeds if allowed to. If you think about it, plants that occur naturally - in native environments - are not propagated asexually. How would this happen? Of course there are limitations......some hybrids may produce sterile seeds and named cultivars will not necessarily come true to type, but theoretically, if it flowers it produces seeds.

All species of dicentra self-seed rather freely......some to the point of being obnoxious.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 12:00PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

what... who ... when ...

one of the best xmas gifts i got .. from gal no less ... when she said:

Ken is correct :-) Theoretically

i didnt read anymore.. in case she qualified that part ... lol ...


ps: though some plants may be fully zone appropriate ... the seed and its germination stages.. may not be .... e.g. once.. and only once.. some impatiens seeded and grew the following summer.. in my z5 ... never saw it before.. nor since .... but they have to be throwing down seed every year ... so some of us might have BH seedlings.. some may not ....

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:04PM
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perennialfan273(zone 5)

I'm sorry, I should have clarified this. What I meant to ask was...from a grower's standpoint, is it better to just do divisions, or is growing from seed a reliable method?? I just want to know which I'm likely to have more success with. Also, I'll be looking for these come spring time (the spectablis in the white form), so remember me.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 9:46PM
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katybird_PA(z6 PA)

They reseed prolifically in the garden for me - though some named cultivars may be sterile. The seedlings do take several years to reach blooming size though. That said, division is easy and yields quicker results.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 4:03PM
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I get a lot of seedlings from spec. alba and pink.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 2:16PM
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Propaganda Garden Design

Unless you are looking for speedy results (in which case division is often your best bet) the only things that need to be vegetatively propagated are cultivars where you want the exact same clone. Or perhaps a seedling that has some traits that you like (color, size, or vigor).

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 10:44PM
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D. eximia and D. spectabilis both seed freely in conditions to their liking, which seem to include stone walls in my experience. This also includes their cousins in the Corydalis genus.

But there are a lot of eximia hybrids and fancy vegetatively propagated selections out there and they may not set seed. At least for me.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 9:46AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I have some of the obnoxious sort of weedy ones seeding all over my back flowerbed along a fence under the neighbor's Douglas firs. I wish my more desirable cultivars like 'King of Hearts' and 'Luxuriant' would seed themselves around.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 9:09PM
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