Bleeding Heart Flower Meaning, Spiritual Symbolism, Color Meaning & More

The term ‘bleeding heart’ applies to several species of flowering plant. 

bleeding heart

In 1951, the noun ‘bleeding heart’ was said to refer to a “person liberally and excessively sympathetic”; however, the phrase became popularized in the 1930s to reference liberals, in particular, Eleanor Roosevelt. 

If we pick apart this phrase a little more, there are other potential meanings. For example, in a figurative sense, the term “bleeding” was said to mean “generous” in the late 16th century.

From the late 14th century onwards, the bleeding heart was seen as a reference to emotional anguish and had close connotations with the bleeding heart of Jesus Christ. 

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Symbolism Of The Bleeding Heart Flower

Flowers have long been used as symbols in art and literature. Many artists used flowers for their symbolism as a way to express hidden or subtle meanings. Every flower has its own unique symbolism, and the bleeding heart is no different. 

Even if you don’t know anything about this plant, its name conjures up a bold, resolute image. The name largely derives from the appearance of the flower, which is characterized by bright pink heart-shaped petals that droop at the bottom and appear to be bleeding. 

Much of the heart’s symbolism is tied to a story of a prince who fought hard to appeal to the heart of a princess. The prince went to drastic lengths to get the princess to notice him, but she refused. One day, he returned from a trip with a special gift.

When he visited the princess, he presented her with two pink, magic rabbits that he’d attached to the outer sides of the flower petals.

The princess, who remained unenthused by this grand gesture, left the prince feeling deflated. However, he refused to give up. 

The prince attached a pair of magic earrings to two white petals and gifted them to the princess. She remained unimpressed by his advances and the prince, distraught and hopeless, took his own life with a knife to the heart.

From his stab wound grew the first bleeding heart flower. Only when the flower grew did the princess realize how loved she was, but of course, it was too late, and her heart bled for the prince forever. 

This story has helped establish the bleeding heart flower as a powerful symbol of passion, romance, and love. Its pink and white blossoms are said to signify unrequited love and heartbreak. For some, it is also a symbol of purity. 

Flower Color Meanings

The bleeding heart’s appearance is its most notable feature. Not only do its distinctive heart-shaped petals contribute significantly to its symbolism, but its colorings offer an even deeper level of significance. 

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The bleeding heart shares a blend of pink and red colorings. Itr can also be white, but this is incredibly rare. So let’s explore the symbolism behind its colors and how these contribute to its meaning. 


Historically, the color pink is a symbol of love and romance. It can also be used to symbolize kindness and purity. When we pair this color symbolism with the story of the prince, it’s no surprise that the bleeding heart flower has such strong associations with love.

The pink tones in this flower, paired with its heart-shaped petals, would make it a great gift for any loved one. 


Just like pink, red is also a symbol of romantic love and passion. You only need to think of Valentine’s Day to see this! Red flowers and gifts have long been considered a gesture of love. The fact that the heart-shaped petals are a mix of pink and red truly emphasizes this meaning. 


White bleeding hearts may not be that common, but they still have some powerful symbolism of innocence and purity. If you have someone in your life that you consider to be kind, generous, and full of love, the white bleeding heart may be the perfect gift for them.

These symbols of purity and love, mixed with the passion of the red and pink, will send a clear emotional message to anyone who receives this gift. 

Meaningful Botanical Characteristics Of The Bleeding Heart Flower

The bleeding heart, also known as the Lamprocapnos Spectabilis, is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the poppy family. The plant is native to Japan, Korea, Siberia, and northern China. 

It thrives in partial shade. This plant is an early bloomer and will do best when planted near a deciduous tree.

Also, many usually plants it in garden beds, pots, or boxes. These plants need space to grow correctly, so if you’re planting more than one, leave at least 15 inches of space between them. 

It needs neutral soil that’s loose, well-watered, and fast draining. For the plant to thrive, it must be watered regularly. However, the soil must be adequately dried between waterings so as not to damage the flower.

Unlike some other species, it copes well with temperature changes and grows well in warm and cold weather. Even in drought, it can thrive.

However, the it does not cope well with frost. This plant would do best indoors in the colder months, where it will continue to flourish. 

If you’ve planted this flower and want it to reproduce, start by dividing the root. The root can be divided in either early autumn or spring. The roots are hardy and can tolerate temperatures well below twenty degrees. 

Unlike some plants, the bleeding heart is easy to maintain. If you want a beautiful addition to your garden or indoor space, it is a perfect choice. Its distinctive colors and floral scent can liven up any garden or living space. 

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Special Occasions For The Bleeding Heart Flower

Are you looking for a suitable gifting occasion for the bleeding heart flower? Let’s take a closer look at the most common occasions below. 


As we’ve learned, the bleeding heart has a strong connection with love and romance. This would make it a beautiful and unique addition to any wedding venue, arrangement, or bouquet. 

Valentines Day

If you haven’t got a wedding in the pipeline, why not gift these flowers to a loved one on valentines day? Even if you don’t have a partner, these flowers are a beautiful display of affection to close friends and relatives on the day. 

Date Night

Are you looking for a unique gift to bring along to date night? What better way to show your date how much you care than with the bleeding heart?

This incredible plant is a bold, statement gesture that speaks for itself. When they see the bleeding heart, there’ll be no doubt in their mind that you care. 

Flower Cultural Significance

The bleeding heart is native to Japan, Korea, northern China, and Siberia. In the plant’s native regions, many legends and folktales have emerged to explain the flower’s significance. 

 Our prince and the princess story is just one example of a classic Japanese folktale. In another version of the story, the prince does not take his own life, but the flower represents his feelings of hopelessness at his rejection. 

In Christianity, the flowers are said to symbolize compassion. For example, if you want a flower to represent Easter or Lent, the flower may be a perfect choice. 

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Bleeding Heart Flower Facts

Are you keen to learn more about the bleeding heart? Let’s explore some of the most fascinating facts about it below. 

Deciduous Plant

The bleeding heart is a deciduous plant. These plants are herbaceous perennials that range in color, form, and size, but they all shed their leaves each fall before going dormant for the winter. 


This plant may be beautiful, but it’s dangerous. Not only are these plants toxic to animals, but they’re toxic to humans, too. The bleeding heart contains isoquinoline alkaloids which negatively affect sheep, dogs, and cattle

All parts of the plant are toxic when touched or eaten. Touching the bleeding heart can cause minor skin irritation, but ingesting parts of the plant can cause diarrhea, vomiting, breathing difficulties, and even convulsions. 

Healing Properties

Considering the bleeding heart has some toxic properties, this may seem ironic. However, the root of the flower can actually help decrease joint pain, especially sprains and bruises. 

Around a century ago, it was used as a tonic to help people suffering with syphilis. The tonic was said to increase appetite, stimulate liver function, and more. 

Fire Resistant 

Miraculously, the pacific bleeding heart is fire resistant. The traditional hybrid is also tolerant to heat and can bloom all summer in northern climates. 

Flower Uses

Now, let’s explore some of the most common uses of the bleeding heart flower.

Calm the Nervous System

The bleeding heart is believed to calm the nervous system. It can be used to reduce insomnia and anxiety. 

Pain Relief

If put into a tincture, the bleeding heart can reduce the pain associated with bruises and sprains. The Skagit people, a tribe of Native Americans living in the U.S, used to use the pacific bleeding heart to treat toothache and even stimulate hair growth. 

bleeding heart


Although butterflies and hummingbirds are the most frequent pollinators of the bleeding heart, ants can also help spread their seeds. The ants take the plant’s seeds, eat the center, and leave the seeds to spread and germinate. 

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What Is The Symbolism Of This Flower Tattoo? 

A bleeding heart tattoo may not be the most common tattoo design, but it has some powerful symbolic meanings. 

In some cultures, it represents compassion and emotional vulnerability. A tattoo can be used to symbolize our own sense of compassion, emotional growth, or openness. 

Most commonly, though, the bleeding heart tattoo is used to symbolize death. Often, the tattoo is done to commemorate a loved one who’s passed away. The design of the bleeding heart can help capture the feeling of loss and hurt and the strength to push through the pain. 

To understand the reasons behind a bleeding heart tattoo, let’s look at some more of its most common meanings and symbolism below. 

  • Trust
  • Compassion
  • Heartbreak
  • Emotional sensitivity
  • Romantic union
  • Unconditional love
  • Emotional vulnerability
  • Emotional growth
  • Creation

The symbolic meanings can vary between cultures; however, any of these symbolic associations could inspire someone to get a bleeding heart tattoo. 

Although these plants are toxic, they’re also one of the most unique and beautiful plants in the world. If you feel a strong sense of individuality, the bleeding heart tattoo may also be the perfect design for you to express this.

Each bleeding heart tattoo may look different. The plant’s shape is distinctive, so it would still be recognizable even if this tattoo was drawn on in black and white.

However, the colors of the bleeding heart are so bold and beautiful that many will choose an artist that can use bright, vibrant colors to truly capture the spirit of the flower. 

Final Thoughts

The bleeding heart is one flower that’s name says it all. It is painful, despondent, and broken. These feelings of struggle and heartbreak are most closely associated with the flower. 

However, as we’ve seen, the flower also has its roots in unconditional love and connection. Sometimes, words just aren’t enough. If you’ve ever experienced a love that knows no bounds, the flower may be the ideal gift to express your adoration. 

Whether you’re looking for a new addition to your garden, patio, or the perfect gift to convey your love, the bleeding heart is one to consider.

Its rich history and distinctive appearance make it a unique gift to give to yourself or someone you care about.

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Gloria White

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