Bloodroot is one of early spring’s most cherished wildflowers, in part because it’s a sure signal spring has arrived. This dazzling white, daisy-like flower pops wide open when the sun comes out, while on cloudy days you’ll notice the petals are closed and the leaf hugs the stem. As bloodroot matures the scalloped leaf makes a handsome groundcover.
When bloodroot is happily sited it spreads and self-seeds which enables me to spread drifts of it along my woodland pathways. Bloodroot will thrive at the edge of a woods or even in full sun if your yard is moist.
If you’d like to add bloodroot to your garden, but if you’re not lucky enough to have a friend who will share a clump, check spring plant sales. When planting, take care not to plant the rhizomes (rootstock) too deeply or heavily mulch or your plant may rot. Bloodroot transplants and divides well in spring or fall. Just slice rhizomes into 3” sections including a bud eye (to plant facing upward). Place pieces horizontally, 1/2″ to 1″ deep, cover lightly with leaf litter and water until established. Those orangish-red rhizomes and all parts of the plant will drip colored juices if it’s cut or broken, so be sure to wear an apron and gloves to avoid stains. Native Americans used bloodroot to paint their faces, weapons, baskets and dye their cloth. It’s fun, though, to paint a broken root across the palm of a child and tell this story.
I hope you’ll enjoy growing, multiplying and conserving the beautiful bloodroot in your own garden. By doing so you can help protect our nation’s native wildflowers for future generations to enjoy.
Thanks to Jane for sharing on Heartland Gardening. She’s grows, studies and photographs wildflowers in her backyard in Akron, Ohio. She also lectures and writes on wildflowers and exhibits her award-winning images, most recently in the touring “Three Women in the Woods” exhibit.
Is this also known as May Apple? Many years ago, I transplanted one from the woods ( there were lots, and I just dug up one) and was told that was it’s name. Unfortunatley, that was 3 houses ago, so I am hoping to add some at my new Ohio house – we have a brook running through the property.
Wouldn’t this look great along the banks, with the weeping willow as a backdrop!
Mayapple is a different plant, with small white flowers hanging under deeply lobed leaves that grow a foot tall. Bloodroot flowers earlier, grows 6″-10” tall, and flowers grow up from the ground. I grow both! Hope you try them! J
Thank you for clarifying – I just Googled MayApple and it clearly was different than your bloodroot.
What I had was Bloodroot – I recognised that flower – it was so outstanding. In a few years my one plant grew to a nice big mound- and since it was planted in front of Spring bulbs, it nicely hid the drying Tulip foliage, while looking beautiful and bright white!
I will be looking for another bloodroot for this house too. I’m so glad you called my attention to this uncommonly good perennial!
Here is how to propagate it from seed if you acquire one. In my NE Ohio garden the pods are ready between late May and mid June, depending on the weather.
“A green seedpod shaped like a slim, elongated football forms at the end of the stem when flowers fade. It grows taller and and gets discolored and lumpy as it matures. When this occurs, gently squeeze a pod open along the seam. If the seeds inside are a warm, shiny brown, they are ripe. It is important to catch these seeds before the pod splits. Once one pod is ripe, gather all your seedpods and take them inside until they begin to split and plant immediately. If seeds dry out they rarely germinate. Plant seeds ½” deep. Seedlings look like a quarter-size version of the parent. Hope this helps! Jane
I’ll be saving all that information, in the hopes that my Bloodroot will supply seed pods. I have plans to go to the Wilderness Center plant sale next month to get a plant for my yard.