In the Spotlight
Written by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.
Bleeding Heart Vine
The perennial plant known as Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is an old fashioned favorite in flower borders. The flowers are beautifully heart-shaped but the flowers only last 4-6 weeks and soon after the foliage yellows and the plant goes dormant. Welcome, then, to the vigorous growth and profuse flowering of the tropical bleeding heart vine (Clerodendrum thomsoniae).
The small flowers on the bleeding heart vine are borne in terminal clusters of 8-20. The flowers have somewhat balloon shaped white bases (calyxes) with bright red emerging petals (corollas). Flowering is profuse in spring and persists until the end of the growing season. The hardiness zones for this plant are zones 9- 11.
Native to tropical areas in West Africa, bleeding heart vine (also known as Glory Bower) grows abundantly in Cameroon and Senegal. It requires direct sun and consistent moisture at its roots. Bleeding heart vine can be grown in a sunny spot indoors but would require a trellis support if grown in a pot. The bleeding heart vine can also be grown in a hanging basket as a houseplant. If pruning is needed, do it after it has flowered. Indoors, the bleeding heart vine may benefit from a rest from mid- November to mid-February. Keep in a cool room and water only to keep the soil from drying out. New green leaves will appear along the vine to once again begin the flowering cycle.
If you would like to see this stunning plant look for it the next time you visit the Tropical Rainforest exhibit in the Lasdon Conservatory. The bleeding heart vine grows throughout the exhibit. You won’t be disappointed.