How do I save my Bleeding Heart?

Michelle Powers
by Michelle Powers
I'm in Minnesota and my Bleeding Heart (which was just planted this spring) is really struggling. I've adjusted the amount I've watered, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. I have clay soil and it's in all sun. Should I do something different?
  20 answers
  • Lori J Lori J on Jul 16, 2012
    I have four bleeding hearts and one is looking just like this. The other three are in a more sun sheltered location, though all in partial sun spots. My theory is this damned hot summer (we are in our second round of projected 100's for a week or more) is just overwhelming the poor things.
  • Mickey Pesola Mickey Pesola on Jul 16, 2012
    It will get better next year or in fall.How long have you had it in the same location? Chances are if it has done good in that location in the past it will be ok.Most do best in a shaded area.At least that is what I have found.Keep it watered and hope for the best.
  • Michelle Powers Michelle Powers on Jul 16, 2012
    Thanks. I just planted it this spring. It was divided out of my mother in laws garden this spring. I'll keep watering. If I decide to move it to a shadier area, when should I do it?
  • Lori J Lori J on Jul 16, 2012
    Early fall or during an extended 'cool' snap. Otherwise, wait til spring. Mine in this shape has been happy in this space for three years.
  • Classic K Classic K on Jul 16, 2012
    needs part shade...and it will come back after the hot heat subsides...I have one planted 2 years ago, gets less than 4 direct hours of sun...thing won't die..just keeps getting bigger
  • Michelle L Michelle L on Jul 16, 2012
    I also live in a cold climate. I've had my "Bleeding Heart" for years. Each spring, it comes up from seemingly nothing & gets huge. When the weather starts getting really warm, the plant begins to die. I just cut it back to 2 or 3 inch stems. Each year, it comes back bigger & more glorious. {I don't disturb the root system.} Bleeding Hearts do much better in shade, so if you've got yours in full sun, it probably won't thrive. Good luck! Warmly, Michelle
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 17, 2012
    This is what bleeding hearts do. They are one of the first plants to appear in spring, but by mid-summer they begin to go dormant. So it's important to plant other plants around them to hide the bare spot when they do. They really are one of the classic plants for shade, and would be much happier in at least partial shade than full sun. (And, Michelle, right now would be the perfect time to transplant it.)
  • Marianne Radley Marianne Radley on Jul 18, 2012
    I would also suggest that if you used the clay soil to plant, that when you transplant, you do not use the soil from the hole you dig. Get some compost and top soil and mix together to replant. Not much will grow thru clay soil! Been there, done that! Also, prennials don't need fertilizer except a light (10-10-10) amount in Spring if you feel they need it. The thing to remember with perennials is that very few of them last thruout the season, so planting with staggering bloom times of different plants will give you a varied garden with flowers all season. Hope all this info helps! Enjoy your trials, that's the fun of gardens!
  • Christy Christy on Jul 18, 2012
    It needs part shade, bleeding hearts go dormant when the weather gets hot. Mine looks just like that about mid July every year. But comes back bigger each spring. You can trim back the stems.
  • Trish M Trish M on Jul 18, 2012
    I'm with Douglas..Only I Would Wait till the hot Spell iz Over in Your Area...I Live in the Desert...Soo we Use the Old Umbrellas we have and decorate them With acrylic paints and Move them Were They are Needed...Looks Like This Guy Could Use a lil Shade...
  • Susan S Susan S on Jul 18, 2012
    Sure wish I'd had this wealth of information a couple of years ago when I lost my bleeding heart!! The very same thing happened to mine and I had planted it in a shady area but it just didn't make it!! I am a little suspicious that it's demise was partially due to underground varments I've been complaining about i.e. VOLES!!!
  • Michelle Powers Michelle Powers on Jul 18, 2012
    Thanks everyone. Things cooled down here a bit so I took the opportunity that was suggested by a few and moved it to an afternoon shadier location. Keep your fingers crossed that it pulls through. :)
  • Becky H Becky H on Jul 18, 2012
    I've found our bleeding heart to be very hardy. It's been planted in the shade/filtered light since day one. The only thing that sets it back is freezes. Yours will do fine once it's out of the sun.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 19, 2012
    Becky, do you have bleeding heart the plant (Dicentra spectabilis) in Tampa? Or are you referring to the vine?
  • Becky H Becky H on Jul 19, 2012
    Sorry Douglas, didn't mean to confuse anyone. I have the vine.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 20, 2012
    It's the problem with common names. They mean different things in different places.
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Jul 25, 2012
    Becky I believe you have the Glory Bower or Bleeding Heart (Clerodendrum thomsoniae)
  • Becky H Becky H on Jul 25, 2012
    Thanks 4S!
  • Sue Kiene Sue Kiene on Aug 28, 2016
    Yes, bleeding hearts are too tender for full sun. Mine, I planted near the front door where it gets morning sun only. It was a starter from one of my friends this year. It has more than tripled in size.
  • Carey Carey on Sep 16, 2016
    You can plant other things to give it afternoon shade, but otherwise, I think you might need to just be patient and keep caring for it. They die down after flowering and then come back in the spring, at least that has been my experience. Perennials often rest the first year, grow the second and bloom the third. So don't give up on it.