Pacific bleedingheart has lovely, pink, heart-shaped flowers that are easily recognized, making this species familiar to many throughout its range, from California to British Columbia. In the wild, at low elevations in the Klamath-Siskiyou region, Pacific bleedingheart is generally found growing in moist wooded areas, often in riparian areas, but at higher elevations it can sometimes be found growing out of rock outcrops and in various other types of habitat, including montane chaparral. In the garden setting, at valley bottom or in warmer regions, Pacific bleedingheart plants will grow best in part shade; however, in cooler areas it can tolerate full sun. It prefers moist, fast-draining and fertile soil conditions, slightly on the acidic side if possible.
Pacific bleedingheart is classified in the Papaveraceae (poppy) plant family. It generally grows 1-3′ tall, growing from delicate horizontal rhizomes. This species is winter deciduous and plants transplant best from horizontal rhizomes after they die back and go dormant in late summer or early fall, but take care to transplant carefully.
The blue-green, fern-like foliage of Pacific bleedingheart is used by Cloudius parnassian (Parnassius clodius) butterflies as a larval host plant. Cloudius parnassian butterflies are interesting in that the males, after mating, attach a pouch to the females to prevent multiple matings, like a chastity belt. The foliage is moderately deer resistant, depending on the deer.
The nectar-rich flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, bumble bees, syrphid flies, and more. Scroll through our gallery to view photos of a bumble bee foraging on Pacific bleedingheart flowers.
The seeds of Pacific bleedingheart are contained within pointed pots. The seeds should be sown in the first year after seed collection, as they don’t store well for long periods of time. If you purchase Pacific bleedingheart seeds from us, the seeds will be fresh from that summer’s seed collection, and they should be sown as soon as possible after they arrive.
Dicentra formosa seed packets contain 1/8 teaspoon of seed.
Seed Germination Instructions
60-90 days cold-moist stratification. Germination may be aided by 2-4 weeks of warm-moist stratification (60-70 degrees) prior to cold-moist stratification.