Bloodroot, a member of the poppy family, is more delicate and beautiful than its common name implies. (It gets its common name from the blood red sap that oozes from the root when it is cut or broken.) Native to North America, bloodroot is found in the shade of deciduous forests where it unfurls white daisylike flowers in early spring. The flowers usually open a day or two before the plant’s large, lobed leaves unfurl. Bloodroot spreads by thick, tuberous roots; the rootstock is poisonous if ingested.
Using Bloodroot in the Garden
A native woodland wildflower, bloodroot functions as a long-lasting groundcover in shade gardens. Bloodroot is also suitable for native plant gardens and deciduous woodlands where it colonizes in the wild. Although its bright white flowers last for just a few days in early spring, this perennial's blue-green leaves blanket the ground with color and texture through late summer when it dies back. Plant bloodroot with other shade-lovers like Virginia bluebells, lily-of-the-valley, bleeding heart, Japanese painted fern, woodland phlox, wild ginger, and goat's beard.
How to Care For Bloodroot
Bloodroot grows best in shade or part shade and moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil. It is a common wildflower in deciduous woodlands where it thrives in the bright spring light and then grows well in the summer shade produced by foliage overhead. Loose, moist soil that is brimming with nutrients is also key to good bloodroot growth. Improve soil structure and fertility by incorporating a 2-inch-thick layer of compost in the garden bed before planting. Top-dress the area around bloodroot with an annual layer of compost.
Look for bloodroot in a local garden center that specializes in native plants. Mail-order bloodroot is often sold and shipped as dormant rhizomes, which should be planted in early spring. Dig a shallow trench about 1 inch deep. Plant the rhizome horizontally about 12 inches apart. Cover them with loose soil and water well. After planting, mulch rhizomes and plants with about an inch of chopped leaves or compost.
Plant Bloodroot With:
How can such a tiny flower give off such a tremendous scent? Tiny lily-of-the-valley sends up its lovely little sprays of bell-like white or pale pink flowers each spring. Allow it to spread a little (which it does, so much that it can be a problem) and it will perfume the whole area with its distinctive scent. It also makes adorable, tiny bouquets. It makes a good groundcover in small areas.Lily-of-the-valley prefers shade and moist soil. In sunny or dry conditions, its leaves will brown. It can easily become invasive, so it's smart to put it in an area where it will be difficult to spread too far, such as a blocked in by a driveway or sidewalk.
It's easy to see the origin of bleeding heart's common name when you get a look at its heart-shape pink or white blooms with a protruding tip at the base of the heart. They grow best in partial to full shade in moist, well-drained soil. Some types bloom only in spring and others bloom spring, summer, and fall, provided temperatures aren't too high.
One of the most elegant ferns available for your garden, Japanese painted ferns are washed with gorgeous silver and burgundy markings. Lady fern is equally elegant though not quite as showy. Either will add interest and texture to your shady spots. Closely related to each other, Japanese painted fern and lady fern are sometimes crossed with each other to create attractive hybrids.Unlike most ferns, these toughies will tolerate dry soil. And they will tolerate some sun if they have ample water.