How to Force Dicentra spectabilis for Valentine's Day


Dicentra spectabilis

Dicentra spectabilis in full bloom

With a charm all their own, Bleeding Hearts are the all-time favorite perennials for Valentine's Day. In fact, they have been extraordinarily popular since their introduction in 1842. Their latin name, spectabilis, translates to "spectacular", which indeed they are!

This year plan ahead. Order your Dicentra spectabilis this fall for January shipping to ensure plenty of time to force plants into full bloom by the holiday. Here are a few tips on forcing Bleeding Hearts.

Dormant Dicentra spectabilis plants can be forced to flower in 4-7 weeks when grown at a temperature of between 50-55 degrees F (52 degrees F is ideal). Plant crowns in the first half of January to ensure flower production by Valentine's Day, February 14th. (Note: Our Dicentra spectabilis are fully vernalized by early January.)

  1. Start by ordering high quality plants from Walters Gardens, Inc. They are available in two sizes: 2-3 eye (suitable for 1-gal pots) and 3-5 eye (suitable for 1 or 2-gal pots).
  2. If necessary, the roots can be trimmed up a bit without diminishing the plant size.
  3. Plant the crown so the eyes are just at the soil surface.
  4. In order to suppress stem elongation and produce fuller, more attractive plants, apply 1250-2500pp, B-nine when the leaves are just beginning to unfold.
  5. If any plants are left over after the holiday, keep them green by placing them in a bright, cool location and keep them well-watered. They may be planted outdoors after the last frost date.