How to Transplant a Bleeding Heart Plant


Bleeding hearts (Dicentra) are popular shade-loving perennials coveted for their lines of heart-shaped blooms in shades of red, pink and white. A bush-like plant that dies off completely in late summer, bleeding hearts, once established, can thrive in about any condition, making it an easy-care addition to your perennial shade garden. Divide or transplant whole bleeding heart plants in early spring or fall when they are dormant. Special care should be taken when handling the root ball, as bleeding heart roots are brittle, long and easily damaged.

Step 1

Dig a hole at least 1 foot deep and 1 foot wide in a shady location in your yard or garden.

Step 2

Add compost to the bottom of the hole and turn it over into the dirt.

Step 3

Circle the plant a foot away from the stem by first loosening the dirt with a shovel. Continue circling the circumference of the plant, pushing further down into the soil until the plant can be moved by hand.

Step 4

Move the plant from the hole with the shovel or with a garden fork.

Step 5

Place the bleeding heart immediately in the new hole if you are transplanting the entire plant. If you are dividing the plant for multiple sites or to share with someone else, shake off the excess dirt until the roots are better exposed. Use a sharp, clean knife to cut through the root mass in as few cuts as possible then move the divided plants to new holes.

Step 6

Fill in the hole with soil and cover with a thick layer of straw or mulch to help protect the roots while they establish through the winter, especially if you are transplanting in late summer/early fall.

Tips and Warnings

  • Dicentra is available in a multitude of varieties. Check with your local cooperative extension office for advice on the plants available for your local growing conditions and their particular needs.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Garden fork
  • Sharp, clean knife
  • Compost
  • Straw or mulch


  • Michigan State University Extension: Dicentra: Bleeding Heart
  • Hill Gardens of Maine: Bleeding Heart

Who Can Help

  • Iowa State University Extension: When to Divide Perennials
Keywords: Dicentra, shade gardening, bleeding hearts

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.