Heart of Mary - Dicentra spectabilis

Heart of Mary - Dicentra spectabilis

Heart of Mary

The Heart of Mary or Dicentra is a beautiful rhizomatous plant widespread in nature in Asia (China and Japan) and in North America; the most common species are Dicentra spectabilis, native to Asia, and D. cucullaria, a small perennial native to North America.

These plants have a herbaceous development, therefore the first shoots develop from the large flat rhizome in late spring and later, the thin, slightly arched stems, bear long, very incised leaves, similar to delicate fern leaves, of a bright green color.

From the end of spring to the end of summer, thin arched, slightly fleshy stems rise between the leaves, bearing numerous heart-shaped, bright pink flowers. The very particular flowers make this plant very decorative in the garden; flowering continues for a few weeks and decorates the plant and all the space around it in a very conspicuous way.

Most of the time this plant is grown in pots, to facilitate the choice of exposure and shelter in periods with unfavorable climate. In this way the plant can be moved without problems from one area of ​​the garden to another and repaired in the colder months.


Cultivate the Dicentra spectabilis

This rhizomatous loves semi-shady positions, with few hours of sun a day, possibly in the coolest hours of the day; in full sun it can be placed only in the regions of northern Italy, where the summer climate is not excessively hot or dry.

The Cuor di Maria love good fresh and rich soil, well drained, but not stony and dry.

These plants do not tolerate drought well, and from the beginning of spring, when we see the first shoots, until the beginning of autumn, watering must be regular, avoiding leaving the soil dry for a long time. We pay attention especially on hot and sultry summer days, watering more frequently.


Care and advice

In autumn the specimens belonging to this variety completely dry out the aerial part, and the root goes into complete vegetative rest; intense cold, combined with high humidity, can irreparably damage the rhizomes, for this reason in autumn it is good to mulch the rhizomes, or weed them up and keep them until the end of winter in a cool, dark and dry place.

Often this plant is grown in pots, so that it can be moved to a sheltered place during the winter, without the need to uproot the rhizomes from the ground.


Cuor di Maria - Dicentra spectabilis: Some species and varieties

Dicentra spectabilis produces a nice enlarged bush, which can reach 45-65 cm in height, with many arched leaves, it adapts well in the flowerbeds with other bulbous plants, or at the foot of trees or shrubs that shade it; Dicentra cucullaria, a North American species, on the other hand, is more compact and delicate, and is used in borders or in the rock garden, where, however, it needs abundant and regular watering.

There are hybrids and cultivars, particularly the varieties with completely white flowers, even if the name heart of Mary is particularly evoked by the pink-flowered botanical species.


Video: Growing Bleeding Heart Dicentra