Shade Garden Choices

Blood Root Shade Garden Choices

Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, is a member of the Papaveraceae family. It is a native spring wildflower that normally grows in the rich woodlands of North America from Nova Scotia to Florida and west to Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Manitoba. This is a perennial that grows up to ten inches tall; the plant has a single, basal leaf that can be as wide as eight inches. The flower is located on a separate stalk and is white. Bloodroot is one of the first wildflowers to bloom beginning in late winter and continues into early spring. This is a great choice for your shade garden.  Jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple, trillium, or wild ginger will thrive under the same conditions. The pure white cup-shaped flowers are fleeting but very charming; double forms last a few days longer. The irregular gray green foliage makes an excellent groundcover through late summer when it starts to die back. Bloodroot is suitable for shaded rock gardens (especially the double form), wild garden and native plant gardens, as well as in light deciduous woodlands areas where it colonizes in the wild. Again, for greatest success you need to provide well-drained humus-rich soil in shade.


  • Light: Part Sun, Shade
  • Zones: 3-9
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Plant Height: 3-6 inches tall
  • Plant Width: 9-12 inches wide
  • Flower Color: White flowers
  • Bloom Time: Blooms early spring
  • Landscape Uses: Containers, Beds & Borders, Groundcover


Bloodroot propagation can be most easily done through root division. Divide the rhizomes in spring or in fall. Cut the rhizomes into vertical sections, two inches in length, making sure there is at least one bud attached. There can be up to 12 buds on the rhizome of one bloodroot plant. In a well-prepared 3 ft wide bed, plant rhizome pieces deep enough to cover the top of the rhizome with one to two inches of soil (usually around four inches deep). Any fibrous roots connected to the rhizome pieces can remain attached. Stagger plantings six inches apart, make sure the bud is pointed upright when placing the rhizome pieces in the ground. Mulch beds with at least three inches of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch. Add mulch as needed throughout the growing seasons and supply adequate moisture.

Pests and Diseases

Slugs can cause some damage on bloodroot foliage in damp seasons and in plantings with wet soils or heavy layers of straw mulch.  Animals that forage on bloodroot include deer, and groundhogs.

Diseases that infect bloodroot include leaf blight, gray mold, and root rot. Leaf blights cause premature defoliation of the plant and can reduce root growth and seed set. To prevent leaf blight, avoid planting in areas with poor air circulation and do not crowd plants. If only a few plants are infected, collect and destroy all foliage with the disease symptoms.


  1. Thankfully these can be bought at garden centers now, so nobody has to take them from the wild. They were collected to near extinction in this area years ago.

  2. These grow wild in portions of our yard, and herald the first signs of spring. Lovey!

  3. Some how the name of this flower rings bells in my head… is the bloodroot not given credit for one of the herbal medicines.??? Fantastic information imparted by you here.. thank you…
    bulldog recently posted..Kudu..My Profile

  4. Bloodroot is one of my favorite wildflowers and the double ‘Multiplex’ is in my top 10 flowers of any plant. I could just sit in the garden and stare at it.
    Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens recently posted..Primroses That LiveMy Profile

  5. I planted several bloodroot in my woodland garden a couple years ago. They disappeared and did not return last year. This year a couple reappeared and there was even a bloom. Slow to establish is an understatement, but I am hoping it will spread!
    debsgarden recently posted..A Garden of the HeartMy Profile

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