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How to Divide Bleeding Hearts Plants

By Nannette Richford
Bleeding hearts bloom in early summer.

Delicate hearts arching gracefully above the frilly green foliage of bleeding hearts create cascading color in early summer. Named for the distinctive droplet of white that tips the heart, this old-fashioned flower spreads by underground roots. Propagated by root division every three to five years, bleeding heart roots easily and adapts to a new location without delaying blooming. Introduce a friend to the joy of bleeding hearts by digging up a piece of the root and passing it on.

Lift and divide bleeding hearts in the spring, when new growth appears. Although they can be divided in mid summer if necessity arises, spring is the preferred time. New plants produce blooms the same year if propagated in spring.

Dig 6 to 8 inches from the base of the plant. Use the spade or garden fork to dig around the perimeter of the plant. Slide the spade under the roots and lift the entire section free of the soil.

Remove enough soil to see the roots clearly. Handle gently as roots are brittle and break easily.

Pull roots apart with your hands. Each section should have at least one shoot of foliage.

Replant in prepared soil in an area with similar soil and lighting. Position the roots so the shoot rests at its original planting depth. Firm the soil down around the roots to remove air pockets and secure the plant.

Water thoroughly to moisten the soil to the root level and keep moist until new growth resumes. Resume normal care once the new plant is established.


About the Author


Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.