If you have a shady landscape you may be familiar with pendulous spring-flowering bleeding heart plants. Despite their similar name bleeding heart plants (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) are not the same as bleeding heart vines, a type of glory bower plant. There are hundreds of glory bower plants. Bleeding heart vine is a tender fast-growing tropical climbing vine that resembles the herbaceous perennial bleeding heart in appearance but shares no other characteristics. It produces big clusters of showy, brightly colored flowers. It has glossy, dark-green, oval leaves. It is best planted in the spring and flowers during the summer on the current year's growth.
|Common Name||Bleeding heart vine, glory bower, bag flower|
|Botanical Name||Clerodendrum thomsoniae|
|Plant Type||Evergreen, vine|
|Mature Size||Up to 15 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Soil Type||Moist, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral, alkaline|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Flower Color||Red, pink, yellow, white, orage|
|Hardiness Zones||10-12 (USDA)|
Glory Bower Care
Glory bower plants are in the same family as mint plants. This West African native can reach about three feet in containers but can climb to 15 feet when given a permanent spot in the ground in tropical zones. The vines spread from three to five feet. Bleeding heart vines climb by twining.
Treat this vine as a tender perennial and keep it on display during the growing season of March through October. Find an out-of-the-way spot to allow the plant its dormancy when it will look a bit too ratty for the kitchen windowsill.
If you grow bleeding heart vine outdoors, consider planting it in the ground or in a container at the base of something it can cling to, like your mailbox, or give the vine a trellis to cling to.
The vines produce the most blossoms in bright light, so keep the plant in a south-facing window if possible. Gardeners in USDA growing zones 9-11 can grow bleeding heart vine outdoors in a partially sunny area without protection.
Bleeding heart vine demands moist, well-draining soil; never let the soil get soggy. It can tolerate many kinds of soil, like loamy or sandy soil, as long as it's enriched with organic material.
The vines are also very thirsty, and you must never allow them to dry out during the active growing season. They need at least one inch of water per week. A fully grown Clerodendrum thomsoniae vine can drink up to 3 gallons of water weekly. If your home is dry, an occasional misting will keep the plant healthy. The bleeding heart vine will only need watering about twice a month during winter.
Temperature and Humidity
Its most ideal temperatures are in the 55 F to 75 F range. In temperatures lower than 45 F, the plant can get damaged. However, it often regrows from the roots in spring. This plant prefers a minimum humidity of 50% or higher; however, it will tolerate lower levels without harm.
To kick start its growing season after a period of dormancy, feed the plant every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer or 5-10-5 fertilizer. If using liquid fertilizer, keep feeding it every two weeks. If giving granulated fertilizer, provide the plant 1/4 cup of fertilizer every six weeks during the growing season. This plant also appreciates calcium supplements, which you can give organically by crushing eggshells and stirring them into the soil. Stop giving fertilizer about one month before the dormant period and during the winter season.
Types of Glory Bower
There are more than 400 types of glory bower or bag flower plants. Clerodendrum thomsoniae is named in honor of the 19th century head of the Calcutta Botanic Garden Thomas Thompson.
- Red Clerodendrum, Flaming Glorybower (Clerodendrum splendens): Evergreen vine; grows to 30 feet; large clusters of brilliant red flowers bloom profusely during winter
- Clerodendrum Vine (Clerodendrum x Speciosum): Evergreen shrubby vine; hybrid between Clerodendrum splendens and Clerodendrum thomsoniae; grows to 30 feet; blooms in winter and spring; features bicolored flowers with a dull pink or red calyx surrounding a short tube in deep crimson shaded with violet
- Shooting Star (Clerodendrum quadriloculare): Evergreen shrub; grows to 15 feet tall; clusters of fragrant pink flowers in fall and spring enhance the deep purple of the leaf undersides
- Harlequin Glorybower (Clerodendrum trichotomum): Deciduous shrub; grows about 15 feet tall and can be trained into a tree form; has fragrant blossoms with a white tube and fleshy red calyx; produces turquoise-colored fruit
Prune away your clerodendrum dead wood in late winter before new growth appears. Cut back all the stems to about 12 inches. Blooms occur on new growth. You can do minor shape trimming anytime. It can also be pinched back into a shrub-like form or left to be a mound.
Propagating Bleeding Heart Vine
Bleeding heart vine benefits from hard pruning to keep it full and bushy and an ideal size. In late winter or early spring, you can also propagate with woody stem cuttings when you deep prune. Bleeding heart vine can best be propagated by stem cuttings and grown by seed; here's how:
To propagate via stem cutting:
- You will need sterilized pruning snips, moistened potting soil or sand, a potting container, and, optionally, a clear jar of water.
- Clip a 3- to 4-inch woody stem cutting, making a straight cut just below a leaf node. Keep the top three leaves; pull off the rest.
- Place the cut end in water or plant it in a pot of moistened soil. Put it on a sunny window sill or a heated surface, such as a heating pad.
- For the plant in water: Replenish the water in the jar as it evaporates every few days. Roots should appear in about two weeks. Once you see roots, replant it in moistened soil; keep it in a sunny window.
- For the planted cutting: Mist the plant daily. Roots should appear in four to six weeks. You'll know by seeing new growth appear, or if you gently tug the stem, you should feel tension. Don't pull hard, or else you might damage the new roots.
How to Grow Bleeding Heart Vine From Seed
Green fruits develop periodically, turning black as they ripen. The four black seeds that grow within each fruit can be used for propagation. You can also plant seeds in spring at 55 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Germination is slow, usually taking six to eight weeks, although it may begin within 20 days under the best conditions.
To give the seed the best chance of germination, nick the seed and soak the seeds for a day to penetrate the thick outer layer. Place the seed on top of a mixture of peat moss and vermiculite or sand and tamp it down with a finger. Thinly cover the seed with soil (just barely). Place it in a sunny spot with bright light. Keep the plant warm with bottom heat and keep the soil moist but not soggy. Transfer the seedling to individual pots when they are are large enough to handle (at least 1-inch high).
Potting and Repotting Bleeding Heart Vine
The best time for the glory bower transplantation is in the dormant period before the spring growing season starts or when the plant has outgrown its current pot.
These plants prefer to be slightly rootbound to produce many flowers; however, it's time to repot if roots grow out of the drainage holes or appear above the soil line. Ensure the new pot contains several drainage holes to avoid waterlogging and prevent root rot. Repot the plant in a pot that is one size larger than its old pot.
If you live in a region that gets freezing winters, then grow your glory bower indoors as a houseplant.
In its native habitat, the vine goes through a dormant period in the winter and will naturally die back as the weather cools. Keep the plant in a cool room out of direct sunlight from mid-November to mid-February. Withhold water until the new growth starts and only water when the soil is dry. Expect that the vine will lose some leaves. At the end of winter, prune the vine back to 12 inches. Move the plant to a bright window, and keep the soil evenly moist—kickstart growth with fertilizer. Repeat every year.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Botrytis blight is a fungal disease that may affect bleeding heart vines. You can prevent fungal infection by keeping the vine in an area with good air circulation with a fan or a window breeze. If you choose to propagate this vine from cuttings, always use sterile potting soil to deny fungal spores the chance to grow.
Bleeding heart vine has few pests, but mealybugs and spider mites will ravage a bleeding heart vine if given the opportunity. Mealybugs leave behind white tufts on stems and leaves. A sign of spider mites is silk webbing on the plants. Apply a natural insecticide like organic Neem oil or wash the plant with soapy water to get rid of both. Reapply the spray every seven to ten days or until the insects are eliminated.
When grown indoors, glasshouse whiteflies can become a nuisance. To give your plant the best chance of success against any pests, keep them well-watered, fertilized, in well-drained soil, and give them adequate sun. White oil (mineral oil) helps eradicate whitefly infestations.
How to Get Bleeding Heart Vine to Bloom
The flowers of the bleeding heart vine are a showstopper. They typically grow on thin, wiry stalks in spring, summer, or early fall. They usually grow clusters with 1/2-inch flowers. The common name “bag flower” alludes to the shape of the white petals, which hold a red surprise inside as the inner red petals emerge. The vines are a rich source of nectar and will attract butterflies outdoors. The delicate panicles are lightly scented and are not overly fragrant. If pollinated, the flowers will produce fruits.
To ensure blooming, feed regularly every six weeks. Use a fertilizer with added calcium or give the plant organic calcium supplements to encourage flowering. To encourage more blooms, cut the stems back to within an inch of the ground after the first blooms slow down to possibly force a second bloom. You do not need to deadhead if you prune after the first bloom period.
The blossom count of bleeding heart vine flowers slows down as fall approaches. The climbing plant may not flower if it doesn’t receive adequate light daily. Bleeding heart vines bloom best when they are slightly pot-bound.
Common Problems With Bleeding Heart Vine
Generally, clerodendrum plants are not fussy about their soil; as long as they regularly get fertilizer, they will thrive.
Discoloration on Leaves
If a plant gets too much sunlight or not enough water, it may develop scorching or discolored patches on its leaves. Move the plant into the shade or give it more water.
Webbing or White Patches on Leaves
Silky webbing or white patches on leaves or stems can signify a spider mite or mealybug infestation. These plants become susceptible to spider mites if humidity is too low. Use an insecticidal soap or neem oil to remove the insects and keep them away with weekly application. Spray or mist the plant with water daily to keep it adequately moist.
Yellowing leaves might indicate that your plant is getting too much or too little water. If the temperature has been overly hot, your plant likely needs more water. If the leaf gets yellow dots or a yellowing spreading over it, it's probably caused by chlorosis.
Chlorosis is caused by a lack of chlorophyll, which can be caused by poor drainage, damaged roots, compacted roots, high alkalinity, and nutrient deficiencies in the plant. Depending on the leaves that get this condition first, it can indicate what nutrient is missing from the plant. Supplement with iron (blood meal) if the yellow appears first on younger or terminal leaves or give manganese and zinc (bone meal) if the yellowing appears on older, inner leaves first.
Does bleeding heart vine need a trellis or support to grow?
This plant is a climber and can be trained to go up a trellis, fence, or pergola if you want it to vine out to its full 15 feet in length. However, you can keep it pruned to be a shrub or mound. The vines also respond well to hanging baskets, where they’ll drape attractively over the sides.
Are bleeding heart vines invasive?
Although they are fast growers, clerodendrum vines are well-behaved, non-aggressive plants that you can train to twine around a trellis. It is not invasive.
What's the difference between bleeding heart plant and bleeding heart vine?
This plant (Clerodendrum thomsoniae) is commonly confused or mistakenly identified as a bleeding heart plant. This mint family plant is not related to the common bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis), which is a poppy family plant. Both plants look like they have droplets falling from a heart-shaped calyx.