July 24, 2017

Growing the Beautiful Dicentra Spectabilis – Dutchman’s Breeches!

Dicentra  Spectabilis is a  flower that I love to cut every year. It is worth having a garden just alone for this beautiful flower . Due to its delicate constitution it is practically impossible find it in the shops as a cut flower, yet it will grow easily in any garden and it will last a good few days in a vase. With its variety of most interesting names it will make a fascinating conversation piece on your dinner table.

Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table:  23rd 29th   April  2017.

Botanical  Name: Dicentra Spectabilis.  Common Name: Bleeding Heart, Dutchman’s Breeches, Lyre flower,  Lady in the Bath!

Description of Dicentra Spectabilis

From the clump of fleshy roots rise fronds of strong ferny foliage, early in the spring, followed by a most interesting flower stem. The stem is long and arching with small pink flowers dangling from it. The flowers are in the shape of a perfect heart with a small diamond shape protruding from the bottom. If the heart could cry I would have called it ‘crying heart ‘ as the petal surrounding this protrusion is white and looks like a tear, but I suppose because of the inner pink petal it has been aptly named ‘bleeding heart’. Why it has earned all the other names I leave to your imagination !

Varieties of Dicentra Spectabilis

There is also a more robust species which has pure white flowers (Spectabilis f. alba) the flowers are exactly the same shape and longer lasting but I don’t think they share the same effect (or names) as the pink varieties.

Where and When to Buy Dicentra Spectabilis

The plant is available now ready potted in good garden centres, where you can see it in full flower . It is also commonly sold bare rooted in packets at the beginning of spring which is a much cheaper option but only so long as the roots have not dried out ( it really disturbs me to see bargain shops selling such packets at this time of the year at half price, to unassuming people who really think they are getting a bargain, whilst I can guarantee that they are wasting every penny of their money as the roots have definitely dried out by now!).

Planting Dicentra Spectabilis

The plants will grow well in semi shade and in all types of soil. Once the clump is established, a few fronds cut for indoor decoration will not go amiss.

cut flowers Dicentra Spectabilis in vase

Cutting Dicentra Spectabilis for Display Flowers

Cut the flower stems low down with some of the ferny foliage attached they will add texture to your display. The flowers will still look good after a few days indoors in a vase although the pink colour will redden with time.

 

 

 

About The Author

Profile photo of Boris Legarni

Boris inherited his green fingers from his mother, who was still planting potatoes and rhubarb in the sixties as she was afraid that they would once again be rationed. As a teenager he used to plant radishes in the corner of the school garden and sell them during break time for sixpence, to give his classmates a healthy crunchy snack. He and his wife both have had an allotment for years, but there is no competition – he does the planting and she does the harvesting and cooking. With a passion for growing anything edible, Boris has planted dozens of named fruit trees in his orchard. Nevertheless he is an avid flower arranger, and assists local communities and charities with his flower arrangements. Boris tells us that after so many years on the allotment he has made all the mistakes possible, and he will share with you his practice to make yours perfect!

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