Dicentra 'Ivory Hearts'

Common Name: bleeding heart 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Papaveraceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Ivory white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade. Prefers rich, fertile, humusy, consistently moist soils. Soils must not be allowed to dry out during summer. Intolerant of wet soils in winter. Promptly remove spent flowering stems to promote additional bloom.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dicentra is a genus of 20 or more species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants which are native to moist woodland areas in Asia and North America. Plants feature pendant, two-spurred, heart-shaped flowers atop mounds of deeply dissected leaves.

A number of cultivars have been produced in recent years which are hybrid crosses between D. peregrine (native to alpine areas of China and eastern Siberia) and D. eximea (native to woodland areas of eastern North America) in which the goal was to produce a dicentra with a compact and robust habit, long flowering period, blue-gray foliage and quality flower colors.

Genus name comes from the Greek words dis meaning twice and kentron meaning a spur for the two-spurred flowers.

Flowers in the genus Dicentra are commonly called bleeding heart because protruding inner petals, more obvious in some species than others, purportedly appear to form a drop of blood at the bottom of each heart-shaped flower.

‘Ivory Hearts’ is a bleeding heart cultivar that is perhaps best noted for its extended bloom period, particularly in cool summer climates, but is additionally noted for its compact shape, strong rhizomatous roots and conspicuous flowers appearing above the foliage. In St. Louis, primary bloom is from late April into June, with continued flowering that will slow down considerably or stop in the heat of the summer. When the temperatures cool in late summer to early fall, additional rebloom may occur. In cooler northern summer climates, flowering will continue throughout the summer. Plants grow in a low spreading mound to 8-12” tall and to 15” wide. ‘Ivory Hearts’ was first discovered in Hokkaido, Japan in 1990. It is a hybrid cross of D. peregrina (female parent) and D. eximia (male parent). Nodding, heart-shaped, ivory white flowers appear in panicles on leafless flower stems arching above deeply-cut, fern-like blue-green leaves. Given adequate moisture, the foliage remains attractive in summer, and may produce an attractive ground cover effect. U.S. Plant Patent PP15,599 issued March 1, 2005.


No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to aphid infestations. Powdery mildew, downy mildew, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt and rust may occur. Good soil drainage is essential for plant survival. Slugs and snails may attack new growth.


Mass, group or specimen in woodland gardens or shaded areas borders and rock gardens. Foliage can be quite attractive when flowers are not in bloom.