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How to Divide Bleeding Heart Plants

Dicentra--known as bleeding heart because of its chain of heart-shaped blooms that look like they're dripping--has been a favorite perennial for generations. With only a short blooming time in early summer, bleeding hearts grow in a bush shape and the whole plant dies off soon after bloom. It's fern-like spring foliage gives nice texture to a perennial shade garden. Bleeding hearts grow best in well-draining most to all shady soil in zones 3-9. For best growing results, divide bleeding hearts after 3-5 years.

Dig your bleeding heart plant in late summer to early fall before the plant's foliage begins to wane. Dig about 6 inches around the base of the plant, loosening it in place.

Cut down through the center of the root ball with a straight-edged spade. A large plant that hasn't been divided in years may yield four nice-sized root divisions, but be sure that you are not cutting the roots too small.

Work compost or peat moss into the area where you plan to transplant your bleeding heart. Dicentra grows best in acidic, rich soil. Once established, bleeding hearts are virtually maintenance-free.

Plant new root balls in mostly shady sections in a hole at least 6 inches deep. Water regularly.

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.


Trim foliage, if desired, before dividing for easier management.

Water proficiently for a couple of days before dividing to ensure that your plant has stored enough nutrients for the move.

Plant new plants at least 2-3 feet apart.

Bleeding hearts can also be grown easily from seed.


Do not allow bleeding heart plants to go too dry. Water on a regular schedule.

Transplant root balls immediately. Bleeding heart does not survive long outside of the ground.

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