General gardening topics

Growing Dicentra from seed (Bleeding Hearts)

Last updated on May 10th, 2022

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Growing a Dicentra (or Bleeding Heart) from seed is actually a fairly simple process. There are a few rules that you need to adhere to and they need a cold snap first so follow our steps below to successfully grow your own Dicentra from seed.

Collecting the seeds

If you are already growing a Bleeding Heart in your garden you can collect the seeds from your plant after it has finished flowering. This means you will need to be vigilant about monitoring the succession from flowers to seed and then collect the seeds before they fall, which is usually some time in summer.

If you have established plants in your garden you can also consider dividing plants in spring, which we have covered in this guide here.

Let them Self-Seed on their own

Another way to germinate further plants via seed is to allow the plant to disperse the seeds on their own. This is something it will do every year if you leave them to grow naturally, it’s worth mentioning that they aren’t really prolific self-seeders though.

If you don’t deadhead your Dicentra or collect the seeds, they will fall around the original Bleeding Heart plant where they will grow and produce flowers, usually the following season. You can also move these seedlings to new positions once they have germinated, however, doing so is a little risky and isn’t always successful.

When to let them self-seed

This is only recommended if you want to take out all of the legwork and you don’t mind letting the seeds fall where they may and crowd the area. If you are going to use this method be advised that after four or five years your existing Bleeding Heart might need to be uplifted and divided.

If you allow the plant to seed around the original plant, each of those new plants will do the same thing year after year and you’ll have to be very observant about any overcrowding and remove these plants as necessary.

When to collect the seeds

It will take time for the seeds to germinate but once they have done so, you can enjoy even more of the stunning flowers. These particular flowers have earned their name because of the unique and delicate features they offer every year.

That being said, you will need to collect the seeds from the plant at the end of summer. By doing so you will have plenty of time to allow the seeds to germinate and be exposed to the freezing temperatures they need that first winter. If seeds aren’t exposed to freezing temperatures they will not germinate because they don’t think they have been through the winter yet.

Sowing seeds indoors – they need to go through a process called stratification

If you are unable to sow immediately after harvesting, you can germinate the seeds indoors and then put them in the ground in the spring. If you do this, the seeds have to be placed in the freezer for several weeks to mimic the same freezing temperatures they would get outside. We highly recommend letting them dry out first because the seeds can crack if frozen when moist.

After that, they need several weeks to germinate in a moist area in temperatures around 16°C.

We recommended that you harvest and sow the seeds immediately, leaving them outdoors rather than saving them for later in the year if at all possible.

Planting the seeds

Before you plant your seeds you need to make sure you find a shaded spot that has the same ideal growing conditions as the original plant. They should be placed one centimetre in the soil and then the area in which they are placed needs to remain moist until the first frost. After that, you need to do nothing else but wait for them to sprout. You might not get flowers for the first few years but that doesn’t mean that you have failed. As long as the plant is growing, it will flower when they are ready.

Is seeding the only way to propogate?

If you are looking at this and thinking that you might not have the time to schedule the propagation in the autumn or you just keep forgetting, you can always use other methods like taking cuttings or making divisions from an existing plant. These are probably the easiest and most successful methods.

As mentioned, they will propagate themselves and if you allow them to do this in the same general vicinity, meaning you will need to uplift and divide the plants within a few years anyway.

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