- Type Woodland wildflower
- Lifespan Perennial
- Growing Zones 3-9
- Light Dappled shade
- Water Moist soil
- When to Plant Late spring
- Design Tips Dormant in summer
- Companions Hostas, ferns
- Peak Season Spring flowers
Dutchman’s Breeches: A Field Guide
“Where flowers bloom so does hope,” believed Lady Bird Johnson. If the flowers in question are diminutive, delicate Dutchman’s breeches, you will find hope blooming in shade-dappled woodlands throughout the Northeast.
Dicentra cucullaria belongs to a family of North American native flower with ferny, lacy leaves and tiny, nodding flowers. (Their best-known cousin is the common bleeding heart, a native of Asia and recently stripped of its Dicentra affiliation and renamed Lamprocapnos spectabilis for horticultural reasons unknown to us.)
If you cultivate Dicentra as a ground cover (or as clumps of spring flowers), make sure you pick the right spot. Dicentra has a short season and will go dormant in summer, like other spring ephemerals such as Trillium, trout lilies, and Bluebell.
Plant them in a place of prominence where you can enjoy their brief season: “Because American bleeding hearts are so much smaller than the Asian ones, they can get lost in a busy woodland garden,” writes our UK correspondent Kendra Wilson. “This is especially the case with darker flowers such as D. formosa ‘Bacchanal’ (named after Bacchus, god of wine). Too much shade and they will not be noticed, before disappearing altogether. ”