The rare beauty of a bleeding heart plant emerges in its heart-shaped flowers, which appear to have a drop of blood dripping out of the bottom. To help your bleeding heart plant thrive, meet its needs and allow the plant to grow on its own natural cycle. Many people confuse the annual dying back of the plant with the plant's actual demise. With good annual care and regular watering, the bleeding heart's perennial life cycle will continue year after year.
Plant bleeding heart in an area of shade or part shade, where direct sunlight only happens in the early morning rather than the middle or end of the day. If necessary, relocate your bleeding heart to a shade location in the spring or fall if it is planted in the sun.
Pull back any material from around the base of the plant with gloved hands to clear debris such as leaves, stems or twigs. Spread 1 to 2 cups of compost around the base of the plant to each spring to give the plant a dose of nutrients.
Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch made from shredded leaves or bark around the base of the plant. This will keep weeds from growing around the plant and keep the soil cool and moist.
Water your bleeding heart every other week in spring when new growth first appears and the plant is growing. As the heat of summer comes, water once a week to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Although yellowing and fading leaves are natural for the plant, weekly watering through the summer can extend the life of the plant prior to the annual late summer to winter dormancy.
Clip back the dried stems with hand pruners as they die back to encourage the plant to focus on new growth. Wait until your region has seen the first frost in the fall before using the pruners once more to cut the remaining stems to 2 inches tall.
Dig up and divide your bleeding hearts every five years in the spring or fall to promote new growth and make more plants. When transplanting, set the plant's roots 3 inches deep with the pointed tips of the roots facing down.