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Bleeding Heart Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Bleeding Heart Flower Meaning and Symbolism

The bleeding heart plant lives up to its name with a romantic and sweet appearance that will liven up your outdoor garden or the indoor environment due to their preference for milder climates. With bleeding heart flower meanings of deep romantic love, compassion, and rejected love, this mysterious flower says it all. Keep reading to learn all about the Asian heart flower.

About the Bleeding Heart Flower

Bleeding heart plants are in the Lamprocapnos genus in the Fumariaceae family as the only species.

History and Origin

The bleeding heart plant is native to Asia – Japan, some areas of Korea, Siberia, and northern China. 

A plant explorer with the Royal Horticultural Society discovered the plants and brought them back to England in 1846. It was then brought from Asia to North America in the 1800s. 

Common Names

The bleeding hearts plant goes by the botanical name Lamprocapnos spectabilis. It used to be under the botanical name Dicentra spectabilis. 

Other names include:

  • Bleeding heart flowers.
  • Common bleeding heart flower.
  • Lyre flower.
  • Asian bleeding heart.
  • Lady-in-a-bath flower.
  • Heart flower.


The heart flower starts as rhizomatous roots and forms clumps of two to three feet tall and four feet wide on arching fleshy stems within 60 days. 

Flowers form as drooping sprays of up to 15 small blooms that are heart-shaped with hooks growing out of either side of the petals and a single small dangling tip that looks like a drop of blood. Bleeding heart leaves start as reddish and turn powdery green.  

Bleeding Heart Flower Care

Bleeding heart care is easy when you meet the right conditions. Bleeding Heart requires partial to full shade, with six to eight hours of sun. It also needs moderate to cool temperatures lower than 65-degrees, where it can handle more sun exposure.

These conditions make bleeding hearts suitable for indoor growing, although they have a faster growth when outside.

For indoor bleeding heart plant care, choose a place for your plants that’s not near windows. And choose a potting soil mixed with peat moss or compost. 

Give regular waterings of 1” a week to keep the soil moist and the foliage dry without soaking the roots. The soil should be well-draining and moist, preferably slightly acidic to neutral pH.

It also needs a bigger pot with at least a 12” diameter. You can use a granular, slow-release fertilizer added around the base once a month.

If you use the right-sized pot, you can go four to five years before transplanting bleeding hearts. When you transplant a bleeding heart, keep 2” to 3” of space for the rootball to grow by filling the pot with fresh soil. 

Uses Throughout History

The toxicity of the Bleeding Heart plant makes it undesirable for cooking. It takes a large quantity to be dangerous to humans, causing symptoms of vomiting, nausea, or convulsions. But it can make dogs sick very fast, with small dogs at risk of liver damage. 

Roots of the heart plant have been used medicinally for multiple conditions. It’s served as a mild relaxant, stimulant, and sometimes a diuretic. 

Native Americans used the roots to treat dizziness, coughs, insect bites, and some skin disorders. It could even be used for numbing teeth as a topical analgesic and for hair loss. 

Bleeding Heart Flower Symbolism

There are different bleeding heart flower meanings, with most associations being negative. But there are also positive associations.  

Etymological Meaning

The botanical name Dicentra comes from the Greek words dis (twice) with kentron (spur), referring to the flower’s two hooks. And spectabilis is due to the showy (spectacular) look. 

The name Bleeding heart comes from the flower’s shape, which looks like a heart with a tip at the bottom that looks like the flower is bleeding. 

Deep Romantic Love

The romantic heart shape of the flowers makes the bleeding heart plant associated with love and respect. It means the passionate love of two people. And because it looks like a heart stabbed by a dagger to make it into a bleeding heart, it’s symbolic of deep romantic love.

Spurned/Rejected Love

Ancient Japanese lore gives this flower the meaning of rejected or spurned love. The story says that a wealthy prince fell in love with a maiden who rejected his advances. 

In his pursuit of her love, he gave her 20 gifts to symbolize his love and affection. Although she accepted each gift, she ultimately spurned him because she wouldn’t love him. 


It’s also associated with compassion and unconditional love. It reminds you to be loving and considerate to other people even when it’s hard to be forgiving. 

Bleeding Heart Flower Color Meaning

The meaning of the Bleeding heart flower can also vary based on the flower’s color. Bleeding heart colors are traditionally pink or red. 

The red tint may lean more towards looking like the flowers are black bleeding hearts or purple bleeding heart flower. White bleeding heart flower is also possible to find, although less common.


A pink bleeding heart is associated with romantic or cute love, unconditional love, for something charming or sweet, or in some cases, passion.

But pink heart flowers can also mean kindness and subtleness. They are a subtle flower color for a person you adore and love, a family member, or a dear friend. 


The white bleeding heart is rare and symbolizes purity, faith, an open mind for a new adventure, and a fresh start.

White also means cleanliness and simplicity and is the color of good and right. But unfortunately, the white petals can also turn creamy and look like a yellow bleeding heart. 

You can give a white Asian heart flower to a friend or family member who has been your support system through everything. 


Red flowers are always associated with romance and love. But they can also represent power, strength, and passion. 

Gift a red bleeding heart flower to someone you truly love and have caring feelings for, such as your romantic partner or a very close friend.

Bleeding Heart Flower FAQ

Find out even more about the Bleeding Heart flower with these commonly asked questions. 

When Should You Give Someone a Bleeding Heart Flower?

The romantic look and associations make bleeding heart flowers an appropriate accompaniment for wedding arrangements and bouquets. You can also gift them for Valentine’s Day, date night, and anniversaries. 

When are Bleeding Heart Flowers in Season?

Bleeding hearts start producing flowers in early May and continue through mid-summer. They go dormant by mid to late summer or when they experience warm temperatures.

Are Bleeding Heart Flowers Annuals or Perennials?

Yes, bleeding hearts are perennials. 

What Does a Bleeding Heart FlowerTattoo Represent?

A bleeding heart flower tattoo can symbolize the death of a loved one, unconditional love, compassion, or other deep emotions. 

Are Bleeding Heart Flowers Toxic?

Bleeding heart flowers have isoquinoline alkaloids that are toxic to animals and humans.

Final Thoughts

Bleeding Heart flowers offer a unique look of flowers shaped like a heart with a tip at the bottom that looks like the heart is bleeding. These fast-growing flowers can be planted indoors or in outdoor gardens for landscaping. But be careful to keep these plants away from dogs, as they are toxic to humans and pets.