Love Lies Bleeding‘s readers know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained when she was still human, she continues to study plants and have a garden. This post is fourteenth in a series exploring Mara’s plants. Are you interested in botany, gardening, or plant lore? So are some vampires…
Please note: Medicinal uses are given for informational purposes only. Always consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating yourself or anyone else.
Caution: All parts are poisonous to humans and animals if ingested. Coming into contact with the plant can also be irritating to skin.
Botanical Name: Laprocapnos spectabilis (AKA Dicentra spectabilis)
Common Names: Bleeding Heart, Lady’s Locket, Lady’s Heart, Lyre Flower, Fallopian Buds, heart flower, lady-in-a-bath
History: Native to northeastern Asia. There is a Japanese legend that claims the flower sprang from the blood of a brokenhearted suitor (read it here). Another version has the princess’s heart bleeding eternally for her lost suitor. After being introduced in the UK, it became so popular that it was once called “the finest hardy plant of the 19th century.” And then it fell out of fashion for being too common (fickle Victorians). Bleeding Heart is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve circulation, treat bruises and sores, and as a painkiller.
Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: Compassion
Cultivation: Zones 2 to 9. Perennial. Prefers shade or part shade (you can get away with full sun if you live in a northern area). Bleeding Heart likes rich, consistently moist, well-draining soil, and appreciates organic mulch to help with moisture retention and nutrients. Plant in spring or fall. Bleeding Heart usually goes dormant in summer– you can cut back the stems once the leaves have turned yellow or brown. Continue to water/keep moist while dormant. To get better blooms, work slow-release fertilizer and compost into the soil around the plant when it first emerges in spring. Grows to about 1 metre (3 ft) tall and 30 cm to 1 metre (1 to 3 ft) wide. Propagate by division every few years. Bleeding Heart is deer and rabbit resistant.
Houseplant (not recommended if you have pets or young children): If you can recreate the preferred growing conditions for Bleeding Heart, it will grow as a houseplant. Ideally it prefers a room temperature of about 18C (65F).
Cut Flower: Flowering stems will last up to 2 weeks in a vase.
Crafts: The flowers are ideal for pressing. From Almanac.com: Pick flowers early in the morning after the dew has dried. Put the flowers between paper and place between the pages of a thick book. After a couple of weeks you’ll have perfect flat, papery hearts.
Mara’s Uses: With its red shoots, heart-like flowers, and “bleeding” name, Bleeding Heart would definitely be on Mara’s list of plants to try for her herbal blood substitute.
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Aspasía S. Bissas