Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Divide Bleeding Hearts Plants

wet bleeding heart image by Michael Cornelius from

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.

Deep Do You Plant Bleeding Hearts?

Before planting a containerized bleeding heart, water the plant thoroughly and allow it to drain overnight. When you dig the planting hole, make it deep enough so when you place the root ball into it, it's set at the same depth that it was in its container. Make the width of the hole twice as wide as its depth.


Many bleeding hearts prefer a shaded or partially shade area, but some thrive in full sun. Check the cultural requirements for your specific cultivar. Replanting in similar growing conditions is the safest method when dividing established plants of an unknown cultivar.

Garden Guides