Dicentra spectabilis alba
Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba' photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

White Bleeding Heart

Every bit as charming as the pink form, Dicentra 'Alba' forms large, bushy clumps of powdery-light green foliage comprised of cut or lobed leaves on fleshy stems. In late spring, chains of puffy, white, heart-shaped flowers dangle beneath the arching, leafless stems. These racemes make delightful additions to fresh bouquets, lasting about 2 weeks in a vase. In cooler climates with adequate moisture, the bloom time may be extended into early summer. After blooming Old-Fashioned Bleeding Hearts usually go dormant until the following spring. However, if plants are kept well-watered during the spring, dormancy may be delayed until late summer or early fall. Other bushy perennials, such as Hosta, Geranium, or Sedge, should be planted nearby to fill in the resulting gaps.

  • Height: 60-80 cm (24-31 in)
  • Spread: 45-90 cm (18-36 in)
  • Cold Hardiness: Zone 3-8
  • Sun or Shade: part to full shade
  • Bloom Time: late spring
  • Leaf Colour: green
  • Bloom Colour: white
  • Critter Resistance: deer
  • Nature Attraction: bees

Growing and Maintenance Tips

Dicentra 'Alba' is most at home in woodland settings. It likes rich, loose soil that is evenly moist but also well-drained. At planting time, add lots of compost to the soil to enhance its water retention capabilities. This is not a good choice for heavy clay soils.  The foliage of Dicentra is very brittle so it should be planted in locations that are protected from high winds. It may be propagated by division in either spring or fall, taking great care to keep the fleshy roots intact when transplanting. If spent flowers are not removed, small pods develop and drop their seeds when mature and dry. If these seeds are left undisturbed, they will germinate the following spring. The resulting plantlets are easy to transplant while they are still small.

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