What Happens If You Don’t Cut Back Bleeding Hearts?

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What Happens If You Don't Cut Back Bleeding Hearts?

The bleeding heart is a timeless flower that can add beauty and grace to any garden. Its heart-shaped blooms, though short-lived, are breathtaking while they last. This plant grows well in partially shaded areas and should be planted alongside other plants as it dies back in the summer, leaving empty spaces. To promote the growth of a larger and healthier plant next year, you can cut back the plant after it finishes blooming. Although bleeding hearts will still bloom even if you don’t prune them, some gardeners prefer to do so to encourage increased blooming and keep their garden looking visually appealing.

There are various reasons to cut back a bleeding heart plant. It can boost the number of blooms and the plant’s lifespan, and it can also help maintain an aesthetically pleasing garden. When the plant goes dormant, the foliage will turn yellow, followed by several stems. If you don’t want your garden to look bare, you may want to remove these stems and replace them with something else until the plant comes back.

Uncut bleeding hearts will leave you wanting more

hostas and bleeding hearts

Jennifer Yakey-Ault/Shutterstock

Bleeding heart plants typically go dormant in the middle of summer after they finish blooming, but you can prolong them by keeping them watered and shaded. Once they die back, cut them all the way to the ground to promote new growth next year. Cutting them back can even prolong their lifespan by putting off senescence, the process of growing old and dying. There’s also the less important issue of an unappealing dead plant sitting in your garden for most of the year. If you don’t cut it back, you’ll have a bare spot in the landscape. Pair it with other plants that grow in the summer, like geraniums or hostas, to cover up the space until spring.

While there is debate as to whether or not cutting back bleeding heart plants is necessary, if you do choose to make the cut, be sure to do so only after the plant has become completely dormant, which occurs in the summer or fall.

✿ Read More About Flowers.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.