Dicentra flower – planting, cultivation, care

The name of this plant combines two words in Greek: twice and spur, indicating the structure of the flower, which has two elongated sepal outgrowths. Dicentra has several names: dilicentra, bull’s head, heart flower or heart of Jeanette. But in Russia this flowering plant is most often called “broken heart”.

Of the entire genus Dicentra, numbering nearly 20 species, the most popular is the magnificent Dicentra. Under natural conditions, this herbaceous rhizomatous perennial can be seen in eastern China, North America, and the Korean Peninsula.

Dicentre Flower


The spectacular plant, which can vary in height from 0.4-0.6 to one meter, has a fairly powerful rhizome located at great depth.

The slightly spreading bush is formed by herbaceous shoots covered with large green openwork leaves, which are divided into several parts. The lower surface of the leaf is tinged with a bluish-green hue. It is worth noting that the main part of the leaves is located at the base of the branches.

The biggest “decoration” of dicentra are quite large pink flowers, which are shaped like a heart divided in half. Their diameter is about 3 cm. Flat flowers have two bent petals (elongated outgrowths of the sepal). Flowers open in extended inflorescences of the brush type, reaching a length of up to 20 cm. Moreover, the flowers are arranged on one side only. They seem to hang down from a bending flower stalk.

The month-long blooms begin in late May or early June. After it ends, the whole above-ground part of the ‘broken heart’ soon dies off.

Dicentra tolerates winters quite well, but great damage to it is caused by spring frosts.

To date, two varieties based on the magnificent dicentra. This variety “Alba” with pure – white flowers and lower growth and variety “Gold Hart” with yellow – golden foliage with a green cast, which emphasize the beauty of pink “hearts.

Site selection and planting

For a “broken heart” is perfectlywill suit both a well-lit place and a site located in the shade. In either case, the plant will grow and develop well, except that flowering will occur later under the canopy of trees or shrubs.

Dicentra has no particular requirements for soil, but it does best in breathable, sufficiently moist soils with a large supply of nutrients.

When choosing a place to plantBe sure to pay attention to what level of groundwater. They must be applied at a depth of at least 0.8 to 1 meter. If the groundwater gets any closer to the surface, the dicentra rhizome will simply rot and the shrub will die.

It is desirable to prepare the place for planting in advance. For this purpose, under the autumn trenching, which is carried out at a depth of 0.3 to 0.5 meters, apply organic matter (eg, humus) at a rate of 3-5 kg per 1 m2 and complex mineral fertilizer (10-15 grams of organic fertilizer) at a depth of no more than 0.3 m. per m2). Mineral fertilizers must be dissolved in water before application, and then this solution is thoroughly poured over the soil.

The planting hole is dug based on the size of the planting material. Most often the depth of the hole is 25-35 cm and the width and length is 20-25 cm. Usually it is a division of dicentra rhizomes, purchased in a garden center or nursery.

Note that in order to get immediately a large and lush bush with abundant flowering in the hole at the same time planted from 2 to 3 dividers.


Dicentre flower

“Heartbreak” does not require much effort and time to care. Practically it consists of rare loosening and weeding, infrequent watering and 2-3 fertilizer feedings.

Nourish plants the first time at the beginning of the growing season and the second time when flower brushes begin to form. Usually choose a nitrogen-dominant or nitrogen-only fertilizer for the first feeding. During the second feeding, apply fertilizer with phosphorus and potassium, which helps lush and long-lasting flowering. Feeding is usually combined with loosening the soil around the bush and removing weeds.

Water the dicentra only when it is hot and dry. A severe lack of moisture shortens the flowering time and forces the plant to end its vegetation early and retire.

To increase the duration of flowering it is worth removing fading inflorescences in time.

In the autumn months, the yellowing shoots and leaves are cut almost to ground level, leaving 3 to 5 cm tall pieces of shoots. The area around the plant is covered with dry peat soil with a height of 6-7 to 8-10 cm. Such mulching helps to survive the winter time with frosts and winds without damage.

Although it is a winter-hardy plant, as it can stand 30-35 degree frost, its delicate branches need protection from return frosts in early spring. The optimal solution is to cover with enough lightweight nonwoven materials (such as spunbond) for the onset of cold waves of air. It will keep the groundcover part of the dicentra from cold temperatures, and it won’t break branches under the covering material.

Let’s talk about propagation

“Broken heart” can be quite easily multiplied by bush division, as well as by root and green cuttings.

This beautiful perennial can grow without replanting from 4 to 6-8 years. Then the bush is dug up, divided and planted again in a permanent place. It is worth remembering that you need to treat the rhizome of dicentra very carefully, because it is easily broken. The excavated rootstock can be slightly wilted to make work easier. Each divided root piece should be 8-12 cm long and have 3-5 shoots or buds. Prepared dividers are immediately planted and watered.

For the preparation of green cuttings use young shoots that appear at the “heartbreak” in early spring. The length of these green cuttings can vary from 10-12 to 14-15 cm. They are planted in prepared beds with water-permeable, sufficiently moist soil, which are then covered with foil. They can also be rooted in containers or pots under polyethylene bags.

The depth of planting is about 10 cm. Rooting of cuttings occurs within a month. Don’t let the soil dry out during this time. Open the film covers from time to time. Young plants are transferred to a permanent place for the next year in the spring.

Seed propagation of dicentra is rarely used, since even freshly picked seeds have a low germination rate. Sow either in late fall or early spring (February-March). The seeds require a temperature of 18-19 degrees Celsius for germination. The first seedlings appear on the surface in 3-4 weeks. After one or more pairs of true leaves have grown, the dicentra can be pickled and planted in the garden.

Before the first frosts, young plants must be covered with a thick layer of fallen leaves. The first time dicenters, obtained from seeds, bloom in the third year of cultivation.

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