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.
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.