Dicentra Spec 'Alba' 3L
This is the white form of the well known pink and white bleeding hearts and is equally attractive - the pale green foliage and white flowers will light up a damp shady spot really well. RHS AGM
- Height/Spread: 3ft (90cm) x 2ft (60cm)
- Flowering Period: April - May
- Growing Conditions: Partial shade or shade (sun is tolerated if the moisture requirements are met) in a fertile moist and humus rich soil which does not dry out.
The first rule for success with herbaceous plants is choosing varieties that suit your growing conditions, particularly if your soil is heavy and damp or the plant is in shade and there are many varieties available that will relish these conditions. If you don_t do this the plant may survive but it won_t thrive.
One of the keys to good results with herbaceous plants is digging in organic material and preparing the ground properly. We recommend either Blended Farmyard manure or Soil Conditioner or alternatively you could use your own compost. Mix this well in with your existing soil and add a fertiliser such as Bonemeal, Vitax Q4 or slow release granule - any balanced feed is suitable.
Dig a hole larger than the pot and position the plant at the same depth in the ground as it was in the pot and back fill round it with a mixture of soil and the organic material. Firm well and water in.
The plant will need checking regularly for watering and for the first season will need watering frequently until it is established. After this the plant should only need additional water during long dry spells. A lot of herbaceous plants, being non-woody, will wilt quickly and need watering well the minute the first signs of this are seen - ideally the plant will not be allowed to become this dry but it is a good indicator of immediate action being needed. Plants in pots will rely on you entirely to provide them with their water and food requirements.
Most herbaceous plants relish an organic mulch such as blended farmyard manure applied early in the year just before growth is re-starting, February is often a good month but apply later if it has been very wet. This will improve the structure of the soil as it breaks down, help retain moisture and provide food. This mulch can also be applied in the autumn too particularly if your soil is very poor and it will breakdown over the winter providing nutriments in the spring when the plant needs it.
The spring is a good time to apply a balanced feed at the prescribed rate - you could use a granular food (slow release), a powder such as Vitax Q4 or an organic feed such as Fish, Blood and Bone, making sure that it does not get on the stem or leaves of the plant. Wash it off if it does.
Many herbaceous can be easily divided when you require more or if the clump is becoming unproductive. The best time to divide is probably spring as growth starts (or just before) but many of the tougher varieties can also be divided in the autumn -avoid dividing plants that are sensitive to cold or damp in the autumn as they may rot off.
The easiest way to do this is to lift the clump and divide with a spade, a large knife or back to back forks for a really tough root ball. You can alternatively simply remove a slice of a clump (much like a cake) and fill the resultant space with fresh soil. Remember the smaller the divisions the more care they will need to re-establish and for really small pieces with perhaps one shoot on you are better potting them up and allowing them to develop a good root system before putting them in the garden. Re-plant them at the same depth in soil that has been improved with organic material and fertiliser and water in.
Herbaceous plants can be cut back after flowering if required - it is not a necessity but many gardeners think it looks tidier. It is worth pointing out that many herbaceous plants have attractive seed heads or winter skeletons and should be left for this reason. Also seed heads left will often attract finches etc into the garden and the old stems will provide wintering homes for beneficial insects such as ladybirds and lacewings. The choice is yours. When spring arrives a lot of these stems have collapsed and started to rot down but any that haven_t should be trimmed and removed at this time.
Some herbaceous perennials can be cut back after flowering and will produce a second smaller crop later in the year. This tends to be true of plants that flower before the end of June and therefore have time to grow and re-flower eg Hardy Geraniums. This technique can also be used to tidy up clumps of foliage that have got a bit tatty eg Alchemilla. Some herbaceous plants benefit from being deadheaded eg Dahlias or having the entire flowering stem removed at the base eg Alstroemerias in order to produce more flowers.
Please note, all plants listed are stocked by Bents at various periods throughout the year, however, due to seasonality and variations in weather and growing conditions some lines may be unavailable. We advise contacting the store prior to your visit to check on availability.