White Bleeding Heart


"Love in fantastic triumph sate
Whilst bleeding hearts around him flow'd,
For whom fresh pains he did create
And strange tyrannic power he show'd."

-Aphra Behn,


We have two cultivars of the Western Bleeding Heart, Decentra formosa 'Bachannal' which has the deepest magenta locket-flowers, & D. formosa 'Aurora' which has snowy white lockets.

The magenta is planted in moist shade near the foot of a deciduous climbing hydrangea, while the white grows between & in the shadow of a young Tasmanian Tree Fern.

White Bleeding Heart The early spring habits of each of these two cultivars have proven rather distinct from one another. The difference may be only the result of slightly different lighting & soil conditions on opposing sides of a path through a long shade corridor.

In this garden, though, 'Bacchanal' fluffs out into ferny leafiness starting in March & when it is approaching a foot high sends up stems of magenta flowers barely above the foliage, flowering most beautifully by early April
'Aurora' by contrast has much less foliage developed by the same time. At start of April it sends up foot-tall stems just jam-packed with blossoms, & the slight amount of blue-green foliage later catches up. It's shown in this phase in the first photo above shot in April. By the start of May it is even flowerier. By then joined by a lot of ferny leafage, but the flowers are still raised high above the foliage.

We also have a white form of the Western Bleeding Heart, D. eximia var alba which is not as showy with its skinnier smaller white blooms & emergence later in spring.

Plus we have the Old Fashioned White Bleeding Heart, D. spectabilis var. alba, which dwarfs both the Western & Eastern bleeding hearts, though it becomes dormant in summer, whereas the comparatively dwarfed bleeding hearts are active & flowering without interuption from spring to the end of autumn. They're all great fun to observe & compare.


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