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Growing dicentra from seed (Bleeding hearts)
Last Updated on May 4, 2020 by John
Growing dicentra or bleeding heart from seed is actually a fairly simple process but there are a few rules that you have to adhere to and they need a cold snap first so follow out steps below to grow your own dicentra from seed.
Collecting the seeds
When you are growing a bleeding heart you collect the seeds from your plant after it is finished flowering which means you have 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 you can also consider dividing plants in spring which we covered in this guide.
Let them Self Seed on there own
Another way is to allow the plant to do this process on its own, which it will every year if you leave them to grow naturally, its worth mentioning there not prolific self-seeders though. If you don’t deadhead 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 but doing this can be a little risky and is not always successful.
When to use
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 will 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 have to be uplifted and divided so 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 cognizant of overcrowding and remove the plants as necessary.
When to collect seed
It will take time for the seeds to germinate but once they have done so, you can enjoy even more of the stunning flowers that have earned their name because of the unique and delicate features they offer every year.
That said, you will need to collect the seeds from the plant at the end of Summer. By doing so at the end of summer 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 are not exposed to freezing temperatures they will not germinate as they do not think they have been through winter yet.
Sowing 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 springtime but 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 as the seeds can crack if frozen when moist.
After that, they need several weeks to germinate in a moist area around 16 degrees Celsius.
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
When you are planting 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 failed. As long as the plant is growing, it will flower when ready.
Is seeding the only way?
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 division from an existing plant which is probably the easiest and most successful. As mentioned, they will propagate themselves and if you allow them to do this in the same general vicinity you will have to uplift and divide the plants within a few years anyway.