Bleeding Heart Bush Vs. Vine – Recognizing Different Bleeding Heart Plants

Bleeding Heart Bush Vs. Vine – Recognizing Different Bleeding Heart Plants

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By: Teo Spengler

You may have heard of bleeding heart vine and bleeding heart bush and assumed they were two versions of the same plant. But that isn’t true. These similar names were given to very different bleeding heart plants. If you want to know the ins and outs of bleeding heart bush vs. vine, read on. We’ll explain the difference between a bleeding heart bush and vine.

Are All Bleeding Hearts the Same?

The short answer is no. If you expect different bleeding heart plants to be similar, think again. In fact, bleeding heart vine and bleeding heart bush belong to different families. One difference between a bleeding heart bush and vine is that each as its own scientific name.

Bleeding heart bush is called Dicentra spectablis and is a member of the Fumariaceae family. Bleeding heart vine is Clerodendron thomsoniae and is in the Verbenaceae family.

Bleeding Heart Bush vs. Vine

There is a big difference between a bleeding heart bush and vine. Let’s look at the bleeding heart bush vs. vine debate, starting with the vine.

Bleeding heart vine is a slender twining vine, native to Africa. The vine is attractive to gardeners because of the clusters of bright red flowers that grow along the vine stems. The flowers initially appear to be white because of the white bracts. However, in time the crimson blossoms emerge, looking like drops of blood dripping from the heart-shaped calyx. That’s where the vine gets the common name bleeding heart vine.

Since bleeding heart vine is native to tropical Africa, it is no surprise that the plant is not very cold hardy. The roots are hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 9, but the require protection from freezing.

The bleeding heart bush is an herbaceous perennial. It can grow to 4 feet (1.2 m.) tall and 2 feet (60 cm.) wide and bears heart-shaped flowers. The outer petals of these flowers are bright reddish-pink, and form the shape of a valentine. The inner petals are white. Bleeding heart bush flowers in spring. They grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9.

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Clerodendrum Species, Bleeding Heart Vine, Glory Bower, Tropical Bleeding Heart

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Clerodendrum (kler-oh-DEN-drum) (Info)
Species: thomsoniae (tom-SON-ee-ay) (Info)
Synonym:Clerodendrum balfourii
Synonym:Clerodendrum delectum


Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Belvedere Tiburon, California

Altamonte Springs, Florida

Clearwater, Florida(2 reports)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida(3 reports)

Gainesville, Florida(3 reports)

Pompano Beach, Florida(2 reports)

Saint Petersburg, Florida(4 reports)

Sarasota, Florida(3 reports)

West Palm Beach, Florida(3 reports)

Zephyrhills, Florida(2 reports)

Jacksonville, North Carolina

Wake Forest, North Carolina

Williamsburg, Ohio(2 reports)

Gardeners' Notes:

On May 27, 2019, Rests from Bryan, TX wrote:

Bought this a year ago at a local produce store/nursery. The label said that it wouldn't live in weather lower than 40 degrees. Mine is planted in a pot. I forgot and left it out in 10 degree weather for several days. It died down to the ground. As soon as it got warmer, it started sprouting new growth. It has grown an extra 10 inches in the last 2 weeks. Bought another today at a plant sale. Hope it blooms this year.

Both of my vines bloomed for weeks. One of the vines is lush with foliage. The other is sparse with foliage, but that didn't keep it from being covered with blooms. This vine needs just a fair amount of shade here in South Central Texas. The one with the sparse foliage was in a lot more sun. It is such an . read more easy plant to grow. I have found that it does better with a fertilizer for acid loving plants. Could be because of our high ph water that is also salty. Very tolerant of salty conditions. Overall a real winner!

On Jul 4, 2017, itsasickness from Gonzales, LA wrote:

Opinions are like belly buttons, everybody has one. The truth is this plant can be well behaved and it can be invasive. If you live in a sandy soil area below zone 9 don't plant it in the ground. If you live below zone 9 and you have clay soil amend it. If you want flowers pinch, fertilize and put lots of crushed egg shells in the soil. If you live above zone 9 you want to propagate for next year take soft wood cuttings with about three nodes,pinch off the terminal growth tip but and stick it in moist soil in the shade for a couple weeks. If in full sun water often, dappled shade not so much. If you (like Me) love the stunning look of this vine, make an effort to learn what works for you. I lost mine three years running before I figured it out and now I have my whole Catholic southern fami. read more ly supplied with as many as they can kill.

On Jun 23, 2017, Anton15 from Hong Kong,
Hong Kong wrote:

Lots of confusion here! This absolutely not an invasive plant, it doesn't self seed or run rampant with underground runners. Its a slow growing charming woody sub-creeper in any zone where its comfortable.

Easily trainable and after a good few years makes a lovely small woody wall climber if it has trellis support. Flowering reliably and profusely. It may also be trained as a shrub.

There are a few lovely cultivars of this, one with variegated leaves, another with larger white brats with a lilac blush, and large red bract one etc. The actual flowers inside the bracts are always red. The bracts are similar to those of bougainvillea in that they aren't the true flower.

There are over 400 species of Clerodendrum but C . thomsoniae here, a steady t. read more winning woody creeper is not invasive even in ideal conditions like Hawaiii.

On Apr 16, 2015, akcrafter from Philadelphia, PA wrote:

I read all the comments posted as I was curious about others experience with this plant. I've had the same plant for 10 years sitting in a sunny east facing window looking fairly pitiful and only occasionally flowering until this past winter when I pruned it as usual but then moved it to a brightly lit SE facing window. It perked up immediately and bloomed constantly throughout the winter. I just rooted several cuttings easily and now have them growing fast in a peaty soil mix. I love the flowers. To my surprise mine flowered in two color variations this year. While it has been white with red over the years this year I also had some medium purplish pink blooms. I'm going to put both pots outside for the summer and see how they do. Between this plant and my tropical hibiscus plants I . read more had glorious flowers all winter no matter what was going on outside.

On Mar 19, 2015, wishnwell from Houston, TX wrote:

My bleeding heart grows tamely in Houston's clay soil while the coral vine travels freely. So perhaps it is just sandy soil that allows it to move around. Mine has been in the ground for several years. The only negative is that when the long-lasting blooms die, they're an unattractive brown mess and are difficult to trim. It's easy to root in water from cuttings I take in early winter if a freeze is forecast.

On Mar 16, 2015, aegisprncs from Key West, FL (Zone 11) wrote:

A neighbor gave me a plant so I threw it in a pot under Palm trees with 4 other types of plants (I do this regularly as a temporary solution until I can find it a proper place in the yard) and watered once a week. Well, needless to say, I forgot that it was there until one day it was blooming like crazy. The blooms are going on 2 months now and still strong. I think it's time to move it next to the chain link fence. I am happy with this plant as it takes very little care!

On Jul 18, 2014, nathanieledison from Santa Rosa, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Despite what all the other comments say, this is, hands down, the BEST houseplant I have grown. Well okay, it ties for first with tropical hibiscus.

With plenty of light and any good potting soil, this plant will get enormous leaves (bigger than my hand), but it takes a bit of fertilizer to get it to bloom. Love it love it love it. Too bad I don't live in San Diego so it could take over my yard!

P.S. I actually have the variegated form now. But I figured more people readthese comments than that of 'Variegatum'. Highly recommend this plant. I got all of mine at Home Depot!

On Sep 17, 2012, gardenpackrat from Tampa, FL wrote:

I have been growing both colors, the red/white and pink for several years and the red/white has been very aggressive and spreads underground through out my yard. It is lovely on the fence but really needs to be contained in zone 9. Plant with care!

On Jul 14, 2012, BegoniaRob from Marina, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have had great luck with this plant as a houseplant. I purchased it at a plant sale and have had it indoors for at least 15 years. When it loses its blossoms or leaves, I prune lightly.

However, I want to propagate this plant. Every time I take a cutting and place in water, I don't get any roots. The plants dry out. Am I not waiting enough time? Would I have better luck putting into a plastic bag with some sphagnum moss?

On May 14, 2012, Ladiebug1982 from Spring, TX wrote:

Ladiebug1982-Spring, TX
I planted my bleeding heart in the ground about a month ago. So far it's growing very slowly. It has sprouted lots of leaves but no flowers yet. I did see others in the area have had some trouble with their plants. Mine seems to be doing quite well. I will say I have been watering it a couple times a week. It's planted in the front of my house where it gets partial sunlight. Other than Miracle Grow, I haven't done anything special to it. Looking forward to seeing some color very soon!

On May 7, 2011, tampabay1 from Safety Harbor, FL wrote:

About 4 years ago I was delighted to find one of the same plants my grandmother had grown in Miami. (I'm now in Safety Harbor FL, zone 9B) I planted it against one post of my 40L x 10W x 8'H vine arbor. In year 3 it suddenly took off, and pushed out 2 nicer vines -- giant dutchman's pipe, and a rare green orchid vine. I whacked it back, but now it pops up in the grass. I dig these volunteers up and repot them to share with our Garden Club, but it's getting ahead of me. Recommend you only plant it where new underground growth can be mown down. Underground roots are as invasive as passion flower, or starburst clerodendron.

On Jul 21, 2010, free2fly from Old Bridge, NJ wrote:

I recently purchased this plant because of the lovely flowers which it produces, it also says to keep indoors during winter months (is this true? heard of others leaving it out ) and it says blooming time is spring to E. summer, but to my surprise its in full bloom and I have it in full sun (in pots) It s quite a beautiful plant.

On Jul 19, 2010, LeslieT from Bellaire, TX wrote:

I've tried multiple times to grow this in my Houston-area garden with absolutely no success. Apparently it doesn't like my clayey soil. After reading the comments, I think I may be glad it didn't grow after all.

On May 4, 2010, Elisabbeth from Jacksonville, NC wrote:

Coastal zone 8a
I have successfully taken softwood cuttings and rooted them in a glass of water then into a small pot. Easy.
Here it will survive the winter but look dead so I keep mine in a pot inside until spring when it goes outside again. Morning sun is better than afternoon. Light shade would be good. Just started blooming this month, May. I saw this on a 3-4' stake in a deep pot with PW's diamond frost around the base: lovely combination.

On May 5, 2009, TexasGardener3 from Edinburg, TX wrote:

I live in South Texas (on the Mexican border) and have this vine in a planter on the East side of my house so it gets mostly shade. It's right under the water spicket so it gets LOTS of water. It started blooming for me in early April and is currently FULL of beautiful blooms. It is growing like crazy. I really want to take it out of the pot and plant it in the ground but I really don't dare move it for fear that I will shock it and I don't want to take the chance. I rarely see them for sale here so I don't know if I'd find another very easily (I bought mine in Laredo, TX at a Home & Garden show). All I know is that it is one of the most beautiful vines I've ever seen.

On Oct 11, 2008, lauraroxie from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:

This thing is horrible. impossible to kill. Apparently a neighbor had it. It destroyed a hedge i had. I removed the hedge and poured undiluted roundup directly into the leaves and directly into some stems where i had chopped it. it didnt even blink.

9B with sandy soil. POT BOUND ONLY. Your neighbors and future owners of your home will thank you.

On Oct 28, 2007, dragonflydreams from Wilmington, NC (Zone 8b) wrote:

i was not doing something right when it came to rooting the cuttings, but serpenting layering worked great.

On Jun 5, 2007, CiSteph from Mobile, AL wrote:

I have a neighbor who has had great success year after year with this vine, both in pots and in the ground. So, I decided after seeing it at the nursery to give it a try. It was blooming (a few clusters) when I bought it and continued to do well, putting out new leaves quickly. I potted it, with a metal topiary for support. After all of the first clusters of flowers died, it continues to put out tons of leaves, but no more blooms. It gets morning sun and I keep it moist. The leaves are quite healthy, so I first suspected maybe the bloom period for my zone (8b) was over.
Then I noticed my neighbor's was in full bloom, so I am wondering what is wrong with my plant. I'll try some fertilizer, but does anyone have any ideas to get it to bloom, since these plants are still in bl. read more oom in my area??

On May 28, 2007, HighDesertWoman from College Place, WA wrote:

I bought this plant unmarked at the end of the season at my local Home Depot in 2000. Brought it home and watched it bloom all winter in my sunny south facing window. I then moved it from Northern Calif. to South Eastern Washington and prayed it would make the journey intact. It did. I feed it Rhodie food and just transplanted it (spring 2007) into a slightly larger pot. I am a zone 4 here and it lives outside on the west side of the house under the pergola from May thru October when I bring it in. It will sometimes drop all it's leaves in the winter but usually keeps a few then come spring it goes like gangbusters. Beautiful, unusual and sure to get a comment from every gardener who goes by. I was pleased to learn that it can be propagated by cuttings.(although I have not been able to mak. read more e that work yet) It is one of my favorite house/yard plants.

On Jul 8, 2006, ShelfLife from Clearwater, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

The place you DON'T want this plant is near wooden walkways, porches, or any structure with cracks and crevices.
Because as sure as this plant is a crowd pleaser (and its blooms last FOREVER), it's also very naughty about sending out runners and shoots and popping up in unwanted places. and in our climate (Zone 9b, sandy soil), it's nigh on impossible to kill.

On Jul 7, 2006, AutumnSage from Beale AFB, CA wrote:

This plant gets a lot of oohs and ahhs from my friends. It is very different and gives a garden a bit of personality. I live in a zone 8 and do not have to bring these girls in during our winter/rain season. If you find it, give it a try for the "too shady for full sun plants" areas in your gardens.

On May 28, 2006, wooconley from Oak Hill, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

My neighbor - and gardening mentor - has a huge pot of Glory Bower that comes back every year bigger and better. We live right on the border of Zones 8a and 8b in central Louisiana. She brings the pot into her garage for the middle of winter (huh - we get winter?) I'm going to try growing from cuttings as soon as I figure out the best time of year to do so. She's never done this so we will experiment together.

On Nov 26, 2005, Venetia from New Orleans, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Recv'd this plant as a housewarming gift about 5 years ago. Last year moved it to my balcony facing north which is my only outdoor space now. Last year it was so big that I cut it back. Now it looks terrible although blooming in small spots. The branching outs are brown & looking dead. I am so afraid that I have lost it. Should I bring it in for the winter? Re - pot perhaps? The soil looks like hard mud. Please help. Thanks & Peace,

On Sep 16, 2005, larcatz from Ocoee, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is indeed one of my favorite plants. I bought mine eight years ago when we first moved in together, I always laugh remembering his words the day I bought this one. Can you grow plants, boy was in for a surprise.

On Aug 8, 2005, sugarweed from Taylor Creek, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

This is really a thug in Floridas sandy soil. I don't know if it spreads in clay as easily, but in sandy soil it's akin to Wisteria and Vinca. Don't put this in the ground in Florida without expecting it to go wild. It's trying to eat my backyard!

On Aug 7, 2005, RoyRogers from Tampa, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have the red/pink variety and I have begun to consider it a noxious weed. The "running" of the underground rhizomes reminds me of temperate (running) bamboo. I have new pieces popping up in the middle of my lawn some 20 feet away from main plant. It comes up in the middle of my other flower beds. I have it growing in the shade in the backyard and I have spent all Summer digging all the little pieces out of the ground. When I think I have it all dug out, then another piece pops up.

On Jul 20, 2005, user833894 from Odessa, FL wrote:

I live just north of Tampa in zone 9a but do to my forest of pine trees and proximity to a large pond I don't get temperatures lower than about 30. We bought this house one year ago and it had been abandon. There were lots and lots of this vine covering everything very pretty but way to much. It seem to have been started in one spot and then spread by underground runners everywhere. It had also forced it's way under my rock facade on the side of the house and when pulled loose down came the rocks too. I cut it way back to one spot and it came back very fast. I dug it up and took about a 4 square foot area of roots and move it out to a pasture fence were there was more of it growing. Anywhere there was a piece of root left in the ground it has come back up. I just can't kill it. I. read more t laughs at Round Up. It is growing everywhere. I have both the white and red varieties. Now, a neighbor has some growing on her fence and it is small and pretty. She said it has been the nicest and well behaved vine. I tell folks I have magic dirt as I am aways running like a viking through the yard chopping things down yelling die, die, die. I have 10 foot roses that I cut back to knee high each year and I have to do that while they are blooming as they never stop. So don't pass this plant up on my recomendation just don't plant it by your house or a structure like a wood fence if it gets out of hand it can do some damage.

On Jul 9, 2005, jfscag1 from Murchison, TX wrote:

My friend gave me some seed from this plant. Does anyone know how to grow from seed? I would love to try to get one growing.

On Apr 2, 2005, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I made mine from cuttings spring 04. It's a vigorous grower. I trained mine on training mesh, hoping to get it to climb on top of the wall it's in front of. It didn't work. I had to train it around the barbed wire on top of the wall. It's just fine up there now. Below, it quickly wanders around and through other plants in it's area. I need to cut it back about every four months. In trying to identify this plant, most show red flower out of a white shell? Mine is just white to beige for a few days then quickly turns purple. Then a red bract emerges from the purple bract and a white small flower emerges. In winter the red bloom only seems to bloom during a warm spell. Once into spring the red bloom is continous throughout summer and well into fall. Here the plant grows well all y. read more ear. In the image a small unidentified butterfly appears to be resting.

On Mar 2, 2005, Cyavor from Gainesville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I planted this plant in sun/part shade last May (prior to the extreme heat of Central Florida-Gainesville), next to my front door. The bed is mostly clay with a few inches of grass clippings mulch. This plant gets direct water every couple weeks and has been fertilized once with Peter's Soil acidifer. It has done wonderful. During our few freezing temperatures (covered to prevent wind chill) this year, the plant has continued to bloom, since the day I planted it. It does have a tendency to drop some of its leaves in the fall, but overall the vines are continuing to get new growth. Right now the vine is about 4 feet tall with two groups of flowers and I will have to get a taller trellis to promote its growth upward for the new growing season

On Oct 21, 2004, EarthMama from San Jose, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I just bought this plant & repotted it into a larger pot. I placed it in my "Tropical Courtyard" garden, where I can move it around to find the best place for it. It looks gorgeous, especially surrounded by the red Abutilon, & I hope to have success with it.

On Jun 30, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

i'm in Hawaii - Zone 11. Bought mine in March from a nursery. Thought in was a shrub (looked like a shrub). I hadn't decided where to plant it so I put in in a larger pot until I chose a location. Lo and behold it started sprouting tendrils instead of branches. Seaching ther net for info on it was how I discovered this site. I just planted it today in a spot where it can climb a section of chain link. It will get sun most of the day til late afternoon. Will see how it does. Doesn't sound like it gets invasive, which is a relief. Love the flowers. Will do an update when I know how it does.

On Jun 10, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

Most people grow it in the ground here in Hawaii - plant a small slip of it and it grows into a large vine-like plant. We have had several volunteers come up and we transplant them to areas where we prefer to see them growing. No problems as far as I can see about roots getting bound up.

On Jun 7, 2004, tkcw218 from Lucedale, MS wrote:

I have always heard of and seen pictures of bleeding hearts and have always thought they were so beautiful and never knew how I could get one, but my aunt had two of the "White Bleeding Heart," which she called them, the "Old Fashion or Old Timers White Bleeding Heart." She gave me one of hers. I had it hanging under our two oak trees at the end of our swing. Iit was getting the morning sun and was shaded in the evenings, as the days went by, it was doing so great and the vines were growing and stretching out [as I call it]. Then all of a sudden within a half of a day, the leaves were falling off of it and it was not looking too healthy. I checked to make sure the roots were still cover with soil and they were. But I could not understand why it was dying. I did keep the soil moist. br />
When I took it out of the pot, the roots were so long and so tanglee up, especially around this black plastic thing that was in the bottom of the pot. It was as though the roots had tied themselves into knots that is how bad they were tangled up, when I removed it from the hanging pot to plant in the ground.

I planted it in the ground beside my steps, still in shade but does get morning sun and I keep the soil moist. As each day passes, it is becoming to look more like stems or should say sticks sticking out of the ground, as though it has gone into shock or is dying.

I am worried about this beautiful plant and I am praying daily that it will come back out and be stronger and bigger with a lot of blooms.

I bought a clearance plant at our local Wal Mart a year ago. It had no tag to identify it. We planted it near a porch railing and saw the most beautiful flower develop ever. I have spent all this time trying to identify it and at last a friend found it and sent the information to me. I took 8 cuttings from it as it went by last fall and all of them have grown into more of these beautiful plants. All I did was put them in water and in a short time they had roots. Then I put them in good potting soil. The one puzzelment I have is that one of these cuttings is not blooming. It is the largest about 4' tall. Now all of my friends want cuttings and I will share them. I want all of them to enjoy the profound beauty of this flower

On Apr 23, 2004, deborahsongs from Fort Worth, TX wrote:

I have a Clerodendron Thompsonae, and I am trying to revive it from root cuttings..

I just received a bleeding heart shrub plant that I ordered from a mail order company. I was under the assumption that it would be a perennial in my zone which I believe is 7/8. It can get to -10 to 0 degrees F in the winters.

On Apr 20, 2004, woodeye from Kimberley,
Canada wrote:

We have been growing the bleeding heart vine indoors for three years now.It makes a great houseplant and is very attractive with it's red center.This spring however it started sending out shoots and started budding and when the blossoms opened up the centers that are supposed to be red were white.

On Apr 19, 2004, housers4 from Holiday, FL wrote:

I love this plant. I have only had it a short time, but it did wonderfully in it's pot. I recently planted it in the ground in hopes of better vining over my patio lattice and it has started to wilt. I am guessing it doesn't like my back yard soil? I am hoping for it to spring back as I see some hardy leaves on the bottom.

Last summer my bleeding heart was beautiful. Not knowing what to do during the winter months I left it in my garden and this spring pruned it back. I have no idea what will happen next. I hope I did not mess up. I live in northwest Mississippi.

On Mar 23, 2004, sanita from Brandon, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I live in southwest Florida and have grown 3 bleeding hearts beautifully. I ALWAYS plant them in the shade of oaks. I moved about 50 miles north last year and couldn't bear to leave all three plants. I cut one back, dug it up and brought it with me. It is planted in the middle of 6 oaks. I put it in the ground about 9 month ago and it is thriving. It gets diffused afternoon sun. I would like info on how to grow from cuttings.

On Dec 1, 2003, kamia from Athens, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I like this. Mine is untrained and it mounds up like a big giant bush. Makes a fast comeback if hit back by frost. Which is usually when I prune it back. I've had mine for 4 years. I got it in a one gallon container and kind of just thew it into an empty spot in the yard. grew so fast I never had a chance to train it etc. It stays in bloom pretty much all year. Makes great fence cover as well.

On Nov 13, 2003, noxiousweed from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

A fabulous non-invasive vining plant. It goes dormant during the cold season. We leave it be. Ours is in a container and tied to a support that looks like an upsidedown U. We just wind the new growth around and retie it - usually once during the growing season, and it's that much bigger the next season. I LOVE the stages of the first blooms.

On Nov 12, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
I have unsuccessfully attempted to grow this plant three springs in a row and have given up. I must be doing something really wrong when I read the above comments. I can't give it a negative rating when I just don't know how to provide it the conditions under which it will prosper. Perhaps I will try again and risk disappointment for the fourth time.

Update:10/26/05 (changed rating to positive) I have had success growing this plant in a container this year which is hanging under an oak tree. It receives some morning and some afternoon direct sunlight. It has performed very well.

Update 7/15/06 I planted my plant in a large container and placed it against the trunk of a large oak tree with a metal trellis behind the container to suppo. read more rt the vine as it grows. I had to tie the vine to the trellis for a few feet and then it began the weave in and out by itself. It has been doing very well and is now starting to climb up the trunk into the tree. It has been blooming profusely.

Update: 8/3/10 After a severe winter with lows in the low teens (F), it failed to come back from its roots even though it was wrapped in several blankets with blankets covering its root zone as well. I am very sad because it was one of my favorite plants. My Clerodendrum thomsoniae 'delectum' was slow to sprout back from its roots, but is growing very well now. It is growing on lattice board next to the south side of my house were it obviously received more protection from the cold. I haven't been able to replace it yet, but I will.

On Nov 12, 2003, dogbane from New Orleans, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This tender, perennial vine will bloom most of the year in the proper conditions. The name "Bleeding Heart Vine" is descriptive of its flowers which generally look like a drop exteding from the heart shaped bract. Fowers are usually red and the bracts are white or purple. Hummingbirds frequent the flowers and I've seen winter straglers (Ruby Throated Hummers) feeding on my Bleeding Heart during mild temperatures in January.

Able to withstand light freezes, though may be knocked down to the roots. Usually makes a fast recovery and will bloom the same year.

As a vine, needs support. Mine are trained up the side of a red oak and a water oak. Can also be grown as a rambling shrub.

Spreads by runners, but easily controlled. The sprouts from t. read more he runners can be potted or transplanted for propagation. Cuttings root easily.

I live in southwest Florida (U.S.), and I am growing this plant in a container on my lanai. It has quickly overgrown its' trellis. It has been very hardy throughout the Spring and Summer. I am not one for high maintenance plants and have found this very easy to care for with regular water and an occasional liquid fertilizer. I plan to try rooting some cuttings in water and planting them in the garden as well as giving them to friends.

On Aug 7, 2003, DaylilySLP from Dearborn Heights, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

In Michigan, I cut mine way back in the fall and bring it inside. Water just enough to keep alive. In spring start watering more. Take outdoors when safe and BANG! It will start growing like crazy. This year I went and bought a new one because mine looked dead. It is now almost as big as the one I bought!
Have had the original plant for 2 years.

On Aug 4, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

There are lots of plants called "Bleeding Heart Vine," but this is the most beautiful. I first encountered this plant growing beside the front door of a house for sale in St. Petersburg, Florida, zone 9b. The owners had installed a 4 X 8 foot lattice panel just in front of the wall beside the front door, and the whole lattice panel was encased in this plant in full bloom. It was growing in the ground in front of the panel and reached up to the roof line. I didn't buy the house, but out came my trusty red Swiss Army pocket knife that I carry on my key chain for just such events, and I took a few cuttings, which eventually rooted in water.

I then grew this plant outdoors for many years and I gave away many cuttings to friends I still have a plant in a pot, as it won't r. read more eally survive outdoors here in zone 8b, Northcentral Florida. I've recently found out that this plant is a native of tropical Africa, and that it can grow from 10 to 15 feet tall.

There is also a variety of C. thomsoniae called 'Delectum' which has very large clusters of flowers of a lighter shade of red. I have never seen this variety in person. But the colors in the regular C. thomsoniae plant are just stunning, with the very dark green leaves and the very white flowers with the intensely red centers. Pictures just can't do it justice. That original lattice structure did face East--I bought a house just two blocks away and often drove by that house where I got my first cuttings just to see that plant in flower, as it was such a spectacular sight "en masse." As I find this plant to be a rather slow grower, that particular specimen must have been many years old.

I've found that my potted plant also likes a little morning sun, and quite a bit of water. Every time I water my plants in pots I include a smidgen of fertilizer, so I don't have to remember when I last fertilized, and this plant thrives on this regimen.

On Aug 3, 2003, Maudie from Harvest, AL wrote:

My plant was in a continer in a window with southern exposure. It covered the window and bloomed beautifully finally had to remove it from window (out of sun) and it stopped blooming.
After putting it where it could get morning sun it began blooming again. Evidently it needs some sun in order to bloom.

On Jun 3, 2003, texasgrwr from Magnolia, TX wrote:

Mine is five years old. I keep it in a big pot on the front porch. It dies back each winter and I wait until I see new growth before I start watering it again. I have a 3 foot trellis in the pot and it covers it every year. It does not always put new growth on old stems. I keep water in the saucer in the bottom and it does just fine. It is blooming right now.

On Apr 21, 2003, ranch45 from Interlachen, FL wrote:

I purchased this plant last year and planted it in the ground, in an area where it would get morning and a little late afternoon sun. It did very well, growing to a height of approximately 3 - 3 1/2 feet and winding along the chain link fence.

In winter it lost all of its blooms and leaves, leaving behind what looks to be dead twigs. I left it alone to see what would happen.

I have noticed that there is some growth and am keeping my fingers crossed!! I am not sure what my zone is as I live in northcentral Florida (U.S.), but I will update later to tell of my success or failure.

Update August 2003: My plant did come back, although it took forever to do so. We are now in the first week of August and I noticed yesterday that it is startin. read more g to bloom. I am going to try to grow some from cuttings, as described by other plant lovers! (And thank you to the person who let me know what my zone is. Happy Gardening!)

On Jul 22, 2002, Chili from Raleigh, NC wrote:

Raleigh, NC: bought as a houseplant. needs a lot of water to stay vigorous. Flowers appear quickly and last a very long time (over a month). In a hanging basket the vine climbs to the ceiling and then twirls around in a whirlpool effect. can grow very rapidly at times then seems to stop.

Followup. my first post on this plant was in late July and the plant had held blooms for over a month. It is now late September and the blooms are STILL THERE. Same flowers. They have turned a rosy pink now but still look great.

Live in Nebraska and have one as a houseplant. Kept it over the winter even though it looked dead. All leaves were off and was just a stick plant. Watered once a week a little and once the days were longer and warmer started to sprout and looks wonderful! (I am in USDA Zone 3, possibly 4.)

On Jun 14, 2002, tincansgarden from New Orleans, LA wrote:

The Bleeding Heart vine is truly beautiful. It is hardy here in New Orleans, LA (zone 9), and can probably be grown in colder zones if taken indoors in the winter. I have several of the plants that are very special to me as all are from cuttings taken from cuttings from my grandmother's plant. She passed away 37 years ago but her beloved plant continues to grow.

Although it thrives here (zone 9) it does need protection from freezes. And, while it may loose its leaves after a real cold snap, in late spring it will sprout along what looks to be dead wood. It also sprouts from ground roots. Cuttings can be rooted in water and, in soil if kept moist

I have found that while it does well in containers it really flourishes in the ground. I’ve never tried grow. read more ing it in a hanging basket but imagine it should do well as long as it has ample water. Whether grown in containers or the ground it does need some type of support. I modified an inexpensive 6–foot high assemble-yourself arbor to be 6’wide and 3’ high.

It likes lots of moisture and appears to prefer morning sun but will tolerate late evening sun. The flowers last a long time and as they age they turn from white to pale pink to lavender, and eventually dry up to a light beige. On rare occasions I have found seeds in the dried flowers but have not tried planting them.

I’ve been growing one indoors (hydroponically) for several years under fluorescent lights and although the foliage was lush it never bloomed. This year I moved it to a window where it gets a little direct morning sun and it is now blooming.

On Jun 2, 2002, lunasee from Dallas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I am new to gardening & learning from trial & error. I pick this up at Home Depot in early May. I had no info on this but since I was doing the front of my house with white, green & a splash of red. In any case I just love these. They are in a hanging container siting in my empty bird bath. The vines are draping all over.

Cottage Garden Flowers: Bleeding Hearts and Dutchman’s Breeches

Cottage gardeners were only mildly perturbed when the easygoing, arching spring beauty Dicentra spectabilis had its name changed to Lamprocapnos spectabilis. Its common name, bleeding heart, was still functional. Of course, “bleeding heart” is also used for the plants that retained the name Dicentra—the diminutive, ground-covering Dicentra formosa. Which are not to be confused with Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria).

A quick verbal exchange about bleeding hearts seems impossible. However, simplification is at hand, bearing in mind that the plant, still considered spectacularly “Spectabilis,” is Asian, while the smaller varieties of Dicentra, of which more below, are native to America.

Photography by Britt Willoughby Dyer, for Gardenista.

Above: Dicentra formosa at the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley, in the English county of Surrey south of London.

One of the best aspects of all types of bleeding heart is the foliage. Dicentra is part of the poppy family, which makes the most sense if you compare its divided leaves with common poppy instead of the larger, hairier Oriental types.

The fern-like foliage of Dicentra formosa is glaucous gray-green, making a good ground cover throughout summer. Some varieties of Dicentra disappear after flowering, such as the original woodland Dutchman’s breeches (see below).

Above: The bleeding heart’s subtle combination of flower and leaf color.

Also known as Pacific, western, or wild bleeding heart, Dicentra formosa is named in Latin for its good looks, formosa means “handsome.” It is an American western native.

Above: Dicentra cucullaria, the original “Dutchman’s breeches.”

The dicentra of the American northeast is Dicentra cucullariacucullaria meaning “hooded.” The flowers are the color of a pair of drawers but their shape makes them eminently memorable as Dutchman’s breeches, if said breeches were hanging upside down on a washing line.

Above: Dicentra cucullaria, of the American northeast.

The name Dutchman’s breeches is evocative enough to make anyone wonder about historical details, which are naturally poignant. A 16th-century European man of rank certainly would be dressed in wide, knee-length pantaloons, appropriating native land and flowers as he progressed through the Eastern seaboard. In The Ballads of Old New York (1920) a poem called “Dutchman’s Breeches” speaks of an exchange with Native Americans, in which an arriviste offered to buy a piece of land the size of his breeches. These turned out to be “a mighty garment” when spread out on the ground, covering an impossibly large tract of land.

Above: Dicentra formosa.

Because American bleeding hearts are so much smaller than the Asian ones, they can get lost in a busy woodland garden. This is especially the case with darker flowers such as D. formosa ‘Bacchanal’ (named after Bacchus, god of wine). Too much shade and they will not be noticed, before disappearing altogether. Sunshine is fine it’s the soil that needs to remain moist, and this can be achieved with mulching. Dicentra can also be displayed more prominently in a pot but will be happier ultimately in a blanket of leaf litter in a well-drained, sheltered place.

Above: Dicentra ‘Stuart Boothman’ at RHS Wisley it holds an award for garden merit. Above: Delicate in appearance, tough by nature, the wild bleeding heart of the west.

For more growing tips and garden design ideas, see Dutchman’s Breeches: A Field Guide and more of our favorite Ground Covers and Perennials in our curated Garden Design 101 guides. For more woodland natives, see:

Plant undemanding bleeding hearts in spring, in partial shade, in moist soil

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Question: What conditions do bleeding hearts need to thrive?

Martha Stewart: The common bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis, has a distinctive arched stem and pink heart-shaped flowers. This fairly undemanding, spring-blooming plant will bright-en your garden year after year (and the flowers are also lovely for arrangements).

Plant bleeding hearts in the spring, in an area with partial shade and moist soil that is rich in humus, and keep them well watered. They do well in almost every climate zone, except for the very hottest and the very coldest. In southern California, where you live, it may just be too dry and hot for bleeding hearts. Your plants will do better in the shade and should be given plenty of water.

Gardeners are often mystified when their thriving plants all but disappear in the summer. Bleeding hearts go dormant sometime between early and late summer (they fade earliest in hot climates and in times of drought). When they do, there may be an unsightly gap in your garden, since D. spectabilis can reach 3 feet across.

If your flowers die back as early as June or July, you may want to overplant the area - very carefully - with quick-growing annuals. Tidy up the bleeding hearts slowly, cutting out parts as they brown, and mark the space so you don't accidentally put a shovel through the dormant roots when working on the garden.

The common bleeding heart has been a favorite garden plant since the 1840s. Lately, some of its lovely relatives have been gaining popularity. D. eximia, the fringed bleeding heart, is native to the eastern United States its flowers may be magenta, pink or white, such as the exquisite D. eximia "Alba" and "Snowdrift." The western counterpart, D. Formosa, has pale purple to pink or white flowers.

Question: What is the proper way to have a three-letter monogram printed on correspondence cards for me and my husband? Also, when I write out our names, whose first name comes first?

Martha Stewart: Etiquette questions like these can be tricky indeed, especially as the rules continue to change and evolve.

For cards that will be used to write notes from both of you, a three-letter monogram is written as follows: The last initial should be in the center, a little larger than your (the wife's) first initial, which is on the left, and your husband's, which is on the right.

Incidentally, a three-letter initial for an individual can be written in two ways: With a large initial in the center for the last name, and smaller first and middle (or maiden) initials on the left and right. When all three letters are the same size, they are in consecutive order: first, middle (or maiden) and last names.

As for signing your names, the person who is doing the writing puts his or her name first.

Question: What is the difference between a salsa and a relish? Can you offer some recipes for fruit salsa?

- Melanie Schnizlein, Coopersville, Mich.

Martha Stewart: The terms relish and salsa both describe flavorful condiments or small side dishes. Relish, however, is a fairly broad and generic term, while salsa is more specific.

The word "salsa" means "sauce" in Spanish, and it usually refers to a condiment or sauce made using ingredients common in Mexican and Latin American cooking, such as jalapenos and other chile peppers, cilantro and lime juice, to name just a few. Other parts of the world have their own versions, such as Indian chutneys and Indonesian and Malaysian sambals, which use spices, fruits and vegetables that are characteristic of those cuisines.

Fruit salsas are especially good at this time of year. Refreshing and versatile, they are the perfect accompaniment to grilled food. They can also be used in or alongside sandwiches or quesadillas. Here are two simple recipes:

Peaches or pineapple can be used instead of mango. Serve with grilled chicken, pork or meaty fish steaks, or with tortilla chips.

2 ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon minced shallot

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl stir gently to combine.

Marinate chicken or fish in citrus juice and olive oil, then serve with this tangy salsa.

1 navel orange, peeled, sectioned and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 small pink grapefruit, peeled, sectioned and cut into 1/4 inch pieces

4 scallions, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced

10 yellow and/or red cherry tomatoes, seeded and diced

Grated zests of 1/2 an orange and 1/2 a lime

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl stir gently to combine.

Comments (15)


Most books recommend dividing bleeding hearts in the early spring. However, I also have huge clumps and have divided and moved them around up until July. They looked like they were dying after I did this and went dormant despite some (infrequent) watering, but next spring they all came back healthy and bloomed. My experience is that these are very robust plants. I'm not very attached to mine (they seed around like crazy and I'm continually pulling them out) so I didn't take any particular care. It is only after they start blooming that they get so gigantic that it made me want to divide them up. If you want to be more careful, you can wait until early next spring. Books also say to be careful with their brittle roots, but I just took a shovel and sliced them up and any parts that looked like they had some roots attached, I planted. As I said, despite this brutal treatment in weather that was getting rather hot, they all did fine.


Lisa is right. You can divide them anytime before they go dormant--which varies with how hot the weather is. The roots are brittle, so be sure you get a big enough piece when you divide. I just slice them in half or thirds and move them to where I want them. They will not look nice for the rest of the season, but will come up fine in spring. Hostas can be divided anytime during the summer too they too are tough plants. I do the same thing as above--slice through the whole plant with a spade, dig out the half you want and fill the hole with dirt. Again, they will look lop-sided for the rest of the summer, but wil come up well-shaped next spring. I usually wait until later in the summer to divide mine (when I don't have too many visitors coming to see the garden)Good luck!

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