The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Bleeding Hearts

Question: I have three, well established, bleeding heart plants that are currently in full sun. I want to move these plants and use their bed for my vegetable garden this year. I would like to replant them under a couple of aspen trees. It is mid-April and the bleeding hearts are just begining to emerge. Can I move them now safely? How should I prepare the soil around the aspen trees for them?

Also, if they are shade plants, how are they thriving in full sun now and how will they hold up in shade if moved?

Answer: The old fashioned bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis, will grow well in sun if the soil is evenly moist and the summers are cool. In a drier soil or hotter, sunnier spot it will go dormant early. It will also grow in shade or partial shade where it may stay green longer. It does need a moist soil at least in the spring to grow well, and it blooms better with some sunshine rather than full shade.

The best time to transplant it (or divide it) is in the fall or as it is going dormant. Unfortunately, moving it in spring when it is preparing to bloom might shock it and kill it. If you are determined to move it now, water it well the day before you dig it and then take as much of the root ball as you possibly can. Replant immediately and water it well to settle the soil.

The soil is best prepared with the addition of lots of organic matter to help it hold moisture. The aspen roots might keep the soil a bit drier than this plant would prefer.

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