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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - April 29, 2013

From: East Meadow, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Dicentra Late in Emerging in the Spring
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have had a bleeding heart plant that has come up for over 50 years. This year it did not come up. Is there anything I can do? Is there a chance that it will come up next year or should I assume that the life of this plant is over?

ANSWER:

It’s a wonderful achievement to have a bleeding heart (Dicentra sp.) for more than 50 years. Your heirloom plant has certainly lived a long life. As you know there are many situations that cause Dicentra to naturally go dormant after they bloom (heat and drought) but there are also some that can cause a total demise – waterlogged and heavy clay soil. Have patience and see if your plant is just delayed this spring in emerging.  If it doesn’t emerge within a reasonable time then some careful excavation around the planting site to see if there is any sign of life present in the fleshy root would be the next step. If there is no sign of life then it probably succumbed because of overly wet roots during the winter or a stem rot last fall.  There are many wonderful native Dicentra for you to try if your matriarch has left the garden.

 

From the Image Gallery


Dutchman's breeches
Dicentra cucullaria

Turkey corn
Dicentra eximia

Squirrel corn
Dicentra canadensis

Squirrel corn
Dicentra canadensis

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