Heart of Mary
La Cuor di Maria or Dicentra is a beautiful rhizomatous plant widespread in nature in Asia (China and Japan) and in North America; the most widespread species are Dicentra spectabilis, native to Asia, and D. cucullaria, a perennial of small size originating from North America.
These plants have a herbaceous development, therefore from the large flat rhizome the first shoots develop in late spring and later, the thin slightly arched stems, carry long very engraved leaves, similar to delicate fern leaves, of a bright green color.
Starting from the end of spring to the end of summer between the leaves there are thin arched stems, slightly fleshy, which carry numerous pendulous flowers with a heart-shaped, bright pink color. The very particular flowers make this plant very decorative in the garden; flowering continues for a few weeks and very conspicuously decorates the plant and all the space around it.
Most of the time this plant is grown in pots, to facilitate the choice of exposure and shelter in periods with unfavorable climate. In this way the plant can be moved without problems from one area to another of the garden and repaired in the coldest months.
Grow Dicentra spectabilis
This rhizomatous loves semi-shady positions, with a few hours of sunshine a day, possibly in the cooler hours of the day; in the full sun it can only be placed in the regions of northern Italy, where the summer climate is not too hot or dry.
The Cuor di Maria loves a good fresh and rich soil, well drained, but not stony and dry.
These plants do not tolerate drought well, and from the beginning of spring, when we see the first shoots, until the beginning of autumn, watering must be regular, avoiding leaving the soil dry for a long time. We pay attention especially on hot and sultry summer days, watering more frequently.
Care and advice
In autumn the specimens that belong to this variety completely dry the aerial part, and the root goes in complete vegetative rest; the intense cold, combined with a high humidity, can irreparably ruin the rhizomes, for this reason in autumn it is good to mulch the rhizomes, or eradicate them and keep them until the end of winter in a cool, dark and dry place.
Often this plant is grown in pots, so that it can be moved to a sheltered place during the winter, without the need to eradicate the rhizomes from the soil.
Cuor di Maria - Dicentra spectabilis: Some species and varieties
Dicentra spectabilis produces a beautiful enlarged bush, which can reach 45-65 cm in height, with many arched leaves, it adapts well to the flower beds with other bulbous plants, or to the feet of trees or shrubs that shade it; Dicentra cucullaria, a North American species, is more compact and delicate, and is used in borders or in a rock garden, where it needs abundant and regular watering.
There are hybrids and cultivars, particularly the completely white flower varieties, although the name of the heart of Mary is particularly evoked by the pink flower botanical species.