Bloodroot

Photo Credit: Jean Carr

Best naturalized in large sweeps in woodland or native plant gardens. Also effective in shaded areas of rock gardens. Roots contain a blood-red juice, hence the common name. Its natural habitat: Open deciduous woods, clearings.

Quick Growing Guide

Botanical Name: Sanguinaria canadensis

Botanical Family: Papaveraceae

En français: Sanguinaire

Colour:

Blooms:

Water: Needs consistently moist soils which do not dry out.

Pollinators:

Hardiness Zones:

Bloodroot is a member of the Papaveraceae (or Poppy) botanical family. It is a wildflower found in natural woodlands which serves as a durable ground cover in shade gardens. Bloodroot thrives in deciduous woodlands and native plant gardens, where it can be grown. The blue-green leaves of this perennial, which blooms in the early spring for only a few days, cover the ground with color and texture until the end of the summer, when it dies back.

Despite their dramatic name, bloodroot blooms are actually delicate, beautiful, and incredibly simple to grow. This local relative of the poppies gets its name from the crimson sap found inside its rhizome, one of the first ephemerals to appear in woodlands each year.

The bloodroot flower resembles a water lily and has 8–16 white petals around a golden yellow centre. There are two sepals that fall as the flower opens. The plant’s large, round leaves have several deep lobes.

Appearance

When the bloodroot first appears, its leaves are wrapped around the stem like a protective cocoon before spreading out like a butterfly’s wings when its flower opens. Soon after, the brilliant white or pink blossoms entice inhabitant bees to their alluring yellow stamens, fertilizing them; afterward, ants assist in seed dispersal. How to grow these ephemeral beauties at home is shown here.

A clump of bloodtoot plants with white flowers
A clump of bloodroot with white flowers
Credit Natasha via Pixabay

Plant Care

In the fall, bloodroot seeds should be sown in peat pots and buried in a shaded area of the garden. Topsoil should be used to cover the seeds softly, and Glass should be used to cover the pots. Occasionally check on your plants to make sure the soil is still moist. Germination should take one to three months. Glass can be removed once it has happened.

Bloodroot thrives in USDA Cold Hardiness Zones 3 through 8, and it is like a spot that is partially or completely shaded and has well-drained soil. Like many woodland plants, morning sun and afternoon shade are preferred. Planting these and the majority of perennials in the fall may be more successful due to the last summer’s heat and drought. This will give the roots the most time to grow before summer.

Sanguinaria Canadensis Light Requirements

In the wild, bloodroot often grows in deciduous forests along stream banks or on damp slopes. Place it in the landscape in a spot that will get some springtime sun but will be at least partially shaded in the summer. This need immediately calls to mind bloodroot as a plant you may cultivate below deciduous trees.

Soil for Sanguinaria Canadensis

Pick a location where the soil will remain continuously moist throughout the growing season without becoming soggy. Before planting, add a lot of compost to your soil. Give bloodroot plants an acidic, well-drained soil that has been improved with hummus.

How to Water Bloodroot

Water the bloodroot thoroughly when first planted to help them grow. The soil should then be watered twice a week to prevent drying out.

Temperature and Humidity

A chilly, temperate temperature is ideal for bloodroot growth. USDA Hardiness Zones 3–8 best support its growth.

Mulch for Bloodroot

Applying leaf mulch helps to mimic forest conditions and provides nourishment as the leaves decompose. Leaf mulch also protects against the cold northern winters and the sweltering summer heat. Mulching too heavily, on the other hand, can contribute to stem rot.

Fertilizer

The use of commercial fertilizer is not advised. However, a coating of high-quality garden compost applied to the area surrounding the bloodroot colony will promote further growth.

Propagation

By Division

Bloodroot can be propagated at any time by root division. Plant root sections up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep in an acidic, organic-rich soil that receives only dappled sunlight. Dig up your plants, separate the clump, and replant rhizomes in groups of two to three in each hole, horizontally in the soil, in a shady location. Bloodroot Plant Care To keep the plant from going dormant, keep the soil moist.

By Seed

Bloodroot can be propagated at any time by root division. Plant root sections up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep in an acidic, organic-rich soil that receives only dappled sunlight. Dig up your plants, separate the clump, and replant rhizomes in groups of two to three in each hole, horizontally in the soil, in a shady location. Bloodroot Plant Care To keep the plant from going dormant, keep the soil moist.

Pests and Problems

Bloodroot rarely develops fungal infections. However, if it is planted in an area with poor drainage, the rhizomes may suffer Pythium root rot. Lift the rhizomes, remove any sick tissue, sulfur-dust the cuts, and then transplant the good rhizomes in a well-drained location to save affected plants.

Plants may become infected with Botrytis gray mold if they are in environments with poor air circulation, considerable shadow, and slow drying of the foliage after irrigation or rain. If any foliage becomes afflicted, cut it off with scissors and discard it.

Companion Plants

In nature, find bloodroot in open deciduous woods, clearings. This plant is best naturalized in large sweeps in woodland or native plant gardens. It is also effective in shaded areas of rock gardens. Roots contain a blood-red juice, hence the common name.

Companion plants include spring beauty, anemone, liverleaf, and other early-blooming forest wildflowers. The early season beauty of this magnificent native woodland plant might be its major benefit.

Medicinal Uses and Benefits

In traditional medicine, bloodroot is frequently applied topically or taken orally as an antimicrobial. Bloodroot is said to relax smooth muscles, especially those in the heart and lungs, when taken internally.

Native Americans have traditionally used bloodroot to make people throw up in an effort to rid their bodies of toxic pollutants. Alternative medicine practitioners claim that it can treat a variety of medical ailments. 

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