Bleeding hearts are one of the most stunning plants you can grow in your garden, thanks to their beautiful flowers, distinctive shape, and brilliant colors. So how to get more of them? In this article, I explain when to divide bleeding hearts and how to do it so you can enjoy their beauty as best and as long as possible.
Propagating your bleeding heart by division is ideally done in early spring when the plant is itching to grow, but it can also work in late fall up until early summer. The process involves digging out the root structure, cutting it up into sections containing at least one bud, then potting each section and watering it properly.
Read on as I walk you through the steps of the division process.
When Should You Divide a Bleeding Heart Plant?
Propagation by division is a great solution whether you’re looking to grow more bleeding hearts or rejuvenate your existing plants. If you’re trying to figure out the best time to divide a bleeding heart plant, then you need to consider two main aspects:
The first and most important factor you should think about before deciding to divide your bleeding heart plant for propagation is the season.
Ideally, you want to divide a bleeding heart plant at the beginning of spring. The reason is simple, it’s because spring is the season during which bleeding hearts are most active.
You see, bleeding heart plants sprout and bloom in mid to late spring. Their blooming season usually extends to early summer as well.
Just before this period, the plant possesses high reserves of energy and nutrients to support the upcoming blooming process. As such, if you divide its roots and pot the sections for propagation on their own, they’ll be naturally more stimulated to grow than other times when the plant is dormant.
You can divide the bleeding heart plant for propagation later during the blooming season, but the growth may not be as strong or as quick as if you do it just as the plant is entering its active season.
What’s worse is if you wait too long to divide and do it in the hot months of summer. The chances of this working are rather low due to the lack of a “growth drive” and the unfavorable excessive heat that normally causes the plant to die back.
In this case, the planted sections will probably fail to recover and sustain themselves, so you’d lose the new plants as well as the original bleeding heart if you’d dug out all of its roots.
Alternatively, you can divide your bleeding heart plant in the fall. But in this case, we recommend you do it after the leaves have died back to avoid propagation during dormancy.
As a perennial plant, the bleeding heart will continue to bloom for many years. However, it’ll gradually lose its flowering capacity as it gets older.
This is why dividing bleeding hearts for propagation is a good idea to be done every 4 or 5 years. Not only will this help your plants grow healthier, but it’ll keep them blooming with an impressive intensity for a longer period.
How to Propagate a Bleeding Heart Plant by Division
Propagation by division is a very easy process that yields beautiful results with bleeding heart plants. Here’s a breakdown of the steps:
Step 1: Gather Your Tools
Before you roll up your sleeves for work, you should first make sure you have all the necessary tools on standby to get the job done quickly and effectively.
You’ll need a trowel or a shovel if your plant is in the ground. If it’s in a pot, a smaller version of these tools will come in handy.
Additionally, you’ll need a flat surface to work on and a sharp, clean knife to cut with.
If you’re transplanting the bleeding heart into the ground, you’re good to go. If you’re relocating to a pot, you’ll need it in a proper size along with an appropriate potting mix.
Step 2: Plan the Digging Area
The roots of a bleeding heart plant grow horizontally, so you’ll need to plan how wide the digging area is going to be.
You can do this by drawing a circle around the crown of the roots. The older the bleeding heart, the bigger the circle should be so you end up with the whole root when you dig out.
Step 3: Dig Out the Roots
With the digging area mapped out, start digging out the roots by inserting your shovel or trowel underneath the root area and then pushing down on the handle to turn up the content beneath the soil.
The goal here is to dig up as much of the intact root structure as you can. It’s okay if you end up breaking a few roots, the roots you dig up should be more than enough for successful propagation.
Step 4: Divide the Roots
Grab the knife you prepared in step 1 and look for pink buds near the crown of the root structure. These will serve as guide points for where you should cut.
With swift and firm movements, slice the root into sections containing at least one or two buds of growth. The number of the sections will depend on the size of the original root structure that you’d taken out.
This is the most crucial step in the dividing process because it’ll determine whether the root section is large enough and has enough buds to sustain a new plant.
Instead of a sharp knife, you can use a gardening saw or the sharp edge on your trowel or shovel.
Don’t forget to examine the root section after cutting for any hollow or fleshy parts. If you find some, be sure to cut them off.
Step 5: Replant the Root Sections
Now all that’s left for you to do is to put your sliced root sections in their new destinations. It’s important that you work quickly in this step to ensure that the roots are under the soil before they dry out.
If you’re planting your new bleeding hearts in the ground, dig a hole for each section about 2 feet apart from the adjacent section to give each plant enough room to spread its roots. Cover each section with about an inch of soil enriched with minerals to support its growth.
If you’re planting your new bleeding hearts in pots, your concern should be finding the right size for the root. It shouldn’t be too small that the plant doesn’t have enough space to grow and the soil dries too fast, nor too big that the soil takes a very long time to dry and puts your plant at risk of root rot.
In both cases, be sure to press down on the soil to ensure that the roots are in contact with the soil and to eliminate air pockets. Water properly once you’re done.
Caring for a Bleeding Heart Plant After Propagation
After you’ve replanted your bleeding heart root sections, make sure it has all the necessary conditions to thrive. This includes:
- Using well-drained soil.
- Watering so that the soil is damp, not soggy.
- Ensuring the plant is within a temperature range of 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wrap Up: When To Divide Bleeding Hearts
Knowing when and how to divide bleeding hearts is important when you’re looking to rejuvenate your plant or grow more of it. The ideal time for this process is in early spring when the plant is eager to grow, but it can also work in late fall up until early summer.
The process of propagation by division is pretty easy so you can do it on your own following or guide. It involves digging out the root structure, cutting it up into sections containing at least one bud, then potting each section and watering it properly.
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