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Dormant Bleeding Heart Plants – How To Plant A Bare Root Bleeding Heart

Dormant Bleeding Heart Plants – How To Plant A Bare Root Bleeding Heart


By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

An old-fashioned favorite of many gardeners, the bleeding heart is a reliable, easy-to-grow perennial for zones 3-9. Native to Japan, bleeding heart has gone in and out of popularity for hundreds of years throughout Asia, Europe, and America. With newer flower color, foliage textures, and reblooming varieties widely available, it is once again a popular addition to partially shaded gardens.

Thanks to the World Wide Web, getting your hands on the latest trending variety of bleeding heart is easier than ever. However, gardeners who are used to purchasing growing plants at nurseries or garden centers might get quite a shock when the bleeding heart plant they ordered online arrives as a bare root plant. Continue reading to learn how to plant a bare root bleeding heart.

Dormant Bleeding Heart Plants

Online nurseries and mail order catalogs usually sell bare root bleeding heart plants. While bleeding hearts purchased as container grown plants can be planted almost anytime, bare root bleeding hearts should only be planted in springtime.

Ideally, you’ll order from a reputable online nursery or mail order catalog, which will only have these plants available for sale during the appropriate time to plant them. However, if you do receive your bare root bleeding heart plants too early to plant them, you can keep them cool and moist in the refrigerator for a few weeks until you are able to. Another option would be to plant them in pots and transplant in the garden later.

How to Plant a Bare Root Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart grows best in a location with light shade. They do well in any average garden soil, though they prefer it to be slightly acidic. They cannot tolerate heavy clay or soggy soil, and they are susceptible to root and crown rots in these conditions.

Keep these things in mind as you select a site to plant bleeding heart with bare roots. Unlike container bleeding hearts, they will be directly and immediately exposed to whatever soil you place them in and more susceptible to rots.

Before planting bare root bleeding heart, soak them in water for an hour to rehydrate them, but do not let them soak any longer than four hours. In the meantime, loosen up the soil in the planting site at least a foot (0.5 m.) deep and wide.

Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the bare root plant. This won’t need to be very deep. When you plant a bleeding heart with bare roots, the plant crown should stick slightly above the soil level and the roots should be spread out. The best way to accomplish this is to create a cone or mound of soil in the center of the hole you’ve dug.

Place the bare root plant crown on the top of the mound so that its plant crown will stick out slightly above the soil. Then spread the roots so that they spread over and down the mound. Slowly refill the hole with soil, holding the bare root plant in place and lightly tamping down the soil as you refill it to prevent air bubbles.

Give it some water and soon enough you should begin to notice new growth. That’s all there is to bare root planting of bleeding heart.

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Read more about Bleeding Heart


Root Cuttings vs. Seeds

If you know someone who has a beautiful perennial bleeding heart plant that would give you some root cuttings or if you already have a bleeding heart plant and want to have more, you might be a very lucky person, as you can get a specimen to transplant much faster using a root cutting.

If, however, you are not that lucky, and you are forced to buy new seeds, don't fret, because either way will do just fine—it's just that one way is a bit faster than the other, so good luck with these deer-resistant plants, which will grow up to a height of about three feet, so plan accordingly.

You are also in luck if you live in growing zones 3-9, as bleeding hearts are hardy in those zones, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Regardless of which method you choose, this article is going to offer you some very good tips that will help to insure your success with these gorgeous, romantic flowers, although you should be aware that they don't last for a long time - they start to bloom in the spring and by mid-summer. show's over, and the whole plant dies back to the ground, leaving behind a seed pod that is filled with round, black seeds that can magically become new flowers next spring. And so it goes.


Start Growing Bare Root Perennials

When bare root perennials are properly stored and planted they will provide years of beauty to the garden. Knowing the best growing conditions and care for the specific type of bare root perennials is the other key factor for success in growing perennials. Research the soil type, sun exposure, and hardiness zones of bare root perennials prior to purchasing. Plant in locations based on these growing requirements and you should have happy, healthy perennials in your garden. New gardeners should consider adding beginner-friendly perennials to increase their odds of success.


To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures the lower the zone number the colder the winter.

  • If the coldest winter temperature expected in your area is -15°F (zone 5) then any plants rated zones 3-5 will survive the winter temperatures in your area.
  • If you live in very warm winter areas (zones 9-11) plants with zones 3-4 ratings are not recommended. The lack of freezing winter temperatures do not provide a time for winter dormancy (rest).

Find Your Planting Zone:

Great color in the shade, The Bleeding Hearts. The genus Dicentra, commonly called Bleeding Heart, gives us some of the most treasured plants in America, providing dependable color in moist shade as companions with Hostas and Ferns. There are basically two major types:

1. Most popular and world-famous, is D. spectabilis, a species native to Japan. It is the larger of the two (to about 3 feet,) and has the famous little heart-shaped flowers arrayed along arching stems, a lot like a string of pearls. The large bleeding hearts bloom only in spring, and in some areas, disappear altogether by midsummer, much like Trilliums and Daffodils.
2. The second type, the Fernleaf Bleeding Hearts, are hybrids of North American native wildflowers. They are smaller with finely cut blue-green foliage and similar flowers. However, with the fernleafs, the flowers are more bunched at the top of the stems, more like a dangling bouquet. And best of all, these plants continue to bloom not only in spring, but all summer into fall.

Our native Dicentras are all wonderful wildflowers of woodland shade, from the eastern Dutchmans Breeches and Fringed Bleeding Heart to the Northwests Pacific Bleeding Heart.


Watch the video: How to Plant Dicentra: SpringSummer Guide