1053 Clerodendrum thomsoniaeCommon Names: bleeding heart, glorybower, bleeding heart vine, bleeding glory bower Family: Verbenaceae (verbena or vervain Family)
Bleeding heart is a sprawling vinelike shrub with evergreen leaves. The plant's stems can get 15 ft (5 m) long, climbing without tendrils, suckers or root hairs, but rather by twining through and around its support. The leaves are large, to 7 in (18 cm) long, and arranged opposite one another along the stems. Panicles 4 in (10 cm) across of 5-20 showy red and white flowers are produced throughout summer. The individual flowers, a half inch (1.25 cm) wide, are bell shaped with white calyces and crimson red petals. As is typical of the glorybowers, the flowers have four stamens and a style (the elongated part of the pistil) that extends way beyond the petals.
Clerodendrum thomsoniae is native to tropical West Africa.
CultureLight: Grow in partial shade. Best results occur with morning sun and afternoon shade. Moisture: Bleeding heart likes high humidity and a moist, but not soggy, soil. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 12. Propagation: Increase bleeding heart by replanting suckers or rooting semi-ripe tip cuttings. Quickest results can be obtained from root cuttings taken in winter.
Outside the tropics, bleeding heart is usually grown in containers so it can be protected when temperatures fall below 45 F (7 C). It can be kept pruned into a shrub, or given support and allowed to scramble like a vine. This vinelike shrub does not spread as much as some, and is thus a good choice for a restricted support like a doorway arch or container trellis, and not such a good candidate to cover a fence or arbor. The glorybowers in general, and bleeding heart in particular, are among the world's most beautiful flowers.
The glorybowers are popular ornamentals, cultivated widely for their distinctive and beautiful flowers. Many, such as flaming glorybower (Clerodendrum splendens) and white cat's whiskers (C. glabrum) are strictly tropical and cannot be grown outdoors where frosts occur (except as annuals). Several, like tubeflower (C. indicum), pagoda flower (C. paniculata), shooting star (C. quadriloculare) and blue butterfly bush (C. ugandense) can be grown outdoors in zones 8 and 9, where they will freeze to the ground in winter but usually return in spring. Still others, like cashmere bouquet (C. bungei), harlequin glorybower (C. trichotomum), and Japanese glorybower (C. japonicum) are hardy to zone 7 or lower.
Steve Christman 7/28/07; updated 5/24/09