With National Love People Day on September 30th, we propose to put a ‘little love in your heart’ with an overview of these heart-shaped plants as a reminder to celebrate. Why not mark the day by honoring someone with one of these unique plants to enjoy throughout the season.
Interestingly, the heart shape symbol originated from an ancient plant called Silphium (a species of fennel) grown in Northern Africa. It was once used as a spice and for medicinal purposes. Unfortunately, it became extinct by the first century A.D. The theory goes that the seed of this plant resembles the heart shape we know today. Other historians say its shape originates from ivy leaves or water-lily leaves. Either way, the form has taken off and seen repeatedly in nature in leaves and flower shapes. Let’s review some of our favorite heart-shaped plants while spreading a little love for our garden and favorite people along the garden path.
If you don’t have one of these specimens in the garden yet, make a place! Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) are delightful to look at and enjoy in the spring months of May-June. These heart-shaped flowers beautifully suspend on a gracefully arching stem. The actual flower has an unusual shape resembling a heart that is opening at the bottom. This flower thrives best in moist, well-drained soil in a woodland area garden with ferns and shade-loving plants. Not only are the blooms rich with nectar for hummingbirds, but they have an added bonus in that they are deer resistant! This reason alone should be a top reason to be on a gardener’s top favorite list!
A sure vote to be awarded the ‘Queen of Hearts’ in the shade garden is the Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart.’ Its heart-shaped silver-white foliage lightens up dark spaces. Its robust foliage is thicker and superior resistance to nematodes. The blue forget-me-not type flowers sit above the foliage as another debut lighting up the garden in which it gets started.
There are many varieties and colors of Caladiums for the garden bed. Plant by the bulb in early spring after the last frost or get a headstart with nursery-grown plantings. Buy bigger bulbs since they yield more foliage and have better performance overall. Always remember, the bigger the bulb, the more energy reserve is held for a larger display of foliage. Prepare your garden with well-drained soil and place the bulbs where shade is prolific. They will brighten up shady areas where little else will thrive wholeheartedly. However, be sure to check the label for sun tolerance. Some varieties can grow in full sun, but overexposure can result in holes in the foliage and browning edges between the veins of the leaf. If planting in the sun, be a little more generous with your watering. Use a variety of colors to create an all-season display in the garden. Needing a little attention once the summer season is over, you must dig up the bulbs and trim off the tops, sprinkle with a little sulfur to prevent mold and store in a 60°F cellar or a ventilated storage area. These extra steps will ensure many more seasons of enjoyment bringing smiles and color to the garden.
If you’re looking for a small ornamental tree, the Rising Sun Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘JN2’) is fabulous and is all the rave with plant-lovers. As new leaf growth emerges, the heart-shaped leaves start with an apricot tint, gradually turning to bright gold, then chartreuse. It is a stalwart being able to withstand drought situations, poor soil, and pollution. Yet at the same time, this tree gives you those favorite pea-shaped lavender flowers in the spring and colorful heart-shaped leaves all summer. Plant this one as a focal point outside a window or off the porch so you can enjoy the change in color and heart-shaped leaves. Butterflies and hummingbirds love the nectar and songbirds love the seeds, so there is always something to look at and admire here! This planting grows best in full sun to partial shade.
Are you looking for a shade tree? A Catalpa tree is excellent for this because of its large heart-shaped leaves growing 8 inches wide and 10 inches long. Their fragrant blooms are trumpet-shaped and have white petals with purple and orange throats. After the bloom, green-bean-like seed pods form adding to this tree’s interest! Interestingly in the 19th century, the seeds and pods were used medicinally to treat asthma, whooping cough, heart disease, and the bark and leaves were also used for a variety of purposes!
Catalpa trees require little water once established and full sun or partial shade will serve it best. Expect this one to spread 20-40 feet and reach 40-70 feet high, which makes it an excellent ornamental shade tree to hang a hammock under and enjoy a summer afternoon. While their large leaves and pods are pretty to look at, they can be considered messy to clean up in the fall. To avoid more aggravation, we recommend not planting near buildings, fences, or electrical lines. Weekly maintenance in the fall when leaves are dropping should keep it under control.
These heart-shaped plants remind us of all the people in our lives we appreciate, and that includes you, all homeowners and our amazing clients! We are so thankful for the relationships we share and consider you just like family!
Serving the Poconos, the Lehigh Valley through the Main Line of Philadelphia and western New Jersey, MasterPLAN Outdoor Living would love to help you not only spread the love with heart-shaped plantings in your garden but to work together to create an outdoor living space that provides the feeling of comfort and love! We would love to partner with you to design a custom outdoor living space that will be both beautiful and functional, perfectly fit for your family, home and lifestyle! If you would like to research your choices with an outdoor living design/build firm that is professional, enthusiastic, and caring, reach out to become a part of the MasterPLAN family! We are ready to experience this journey together!
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