Bleeding hearts getting too big, when/how to divide?

perkladd(z5 IL)June 17, 2006

Hi there,

I have a shade garden underneath two 70 year old locust trees in our back yard. I started this garden about three years ago, with just a couple plants. I had these at our old house and they never grew to this sizeAnyway, these bleeding hearts (pink) have now spread so much that they are taking over. They are close to 4ft. tall and 5ft. wide and really healthy. How and when to divide these?

The same thing is happening with the hosta that I planted that were just pint pots that went in at the same time. Now they are HUGE. I do mulch the bed every spring and that is about it.

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Most books recommend dividing bleeding hearts in the early spring. However, I also have huge clumps and have divided and moved them around up until July. They looked like they were dying after I did this and went dormant despite some (infrequent) watering, but next spring they all came back healthy and bloomed. My experience is that these are very robust plants. I'm not very attached to mine (they seed around like crazy and I'm continually pulling them out) so I didn't take any particular care. It is only after they start blooming that they get so gigantic that it made me want to divide them up. If you want to be more careful, you can wait until early next spring. Books also say to be careful with their brittle roots, but I just took a shovel and sliced them up and any parts that looked like they had some roots attached, I planted. As I said, despite this brutal treatment in weather that was getting rather hot, they all did fine.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 8:58PM
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virginia_w(z3 WI)

Lisa is right. You can divide them anytime before they go dormant--which varies with how hot the weather is. The roots are brittle, so be sure you get a big enough piece when you divide. I just slice them in half or thirds and move them to where I want them. They will not look nice for the rest of the season, but will come up fine in spring. Hostas can be divided anytime during the summer too; they too are tough plants. I do the same thing as above--slice through the whole plant with a spade, dig out the half you want and fill the hole with dirt. Again, they will look lop-sided for the rest of the summer, but wil come up well-shaped next spring. I usually wait until later in the summer to divide mine (when I don't have too many visitors coming to see the garden)Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 4:48PM
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Wow, I didn't realize bleeding heart got so big. I will have to get some next year.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 7:45PM
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It is my understanding the "rule" for dividing is dependant on bloom time. Since Bleeding Hearts bloom in early spring, I would not divide them in spring. Divide any time after they bloom. I usually wait until I see the first sign of them dying back. You will have to mark where you put them as most likely they will fade all the faster after you divide them. This way you can add other things to your bed also. Bop over to the Hosta forum and put dividing Hosta into the search window. You will have more advice then you need.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 5:13PM
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If I divide the bleeding hearts now, while they are in bloom, how deep do I have to dig so I do not break the stems? Is there a main root down in the ground? Like an Iris? Or is it more like each stalk has fine roots?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 12:40PM
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I just moved the seedlings around - like everyone else, they stayed puny last year (one went dormant) but it year, both of the seedlings I moved last year are about 18" to 30" tall and flowering like anything!!!

My goldheart is not as big (it's 3 years old) but the colour more than made up for it. My fern leaf one is coming back VERY slowly....

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 6:48PM
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