Mistakes to Avoid when Planting Bloodroot

A bloodroot is a white wildflower that's popular with gardeners who want attractive plants for the shady areas of their gardens. The flower is 1 1/2 inches wide with several contrasting yellow stamens. It blooms from a 6- to 8-inch stem that has a single 4- to 8-inch light green rounded leaf. Although white, the flower got its name because its roots have a bloodred sap that Native Americans used to create dye.

Bloodroot is a low maintenance flower and is generally very easy to grow. But there are a few mistakes gardeners should avoid in order to guarantee their wildflowers thrive.

Poor Site Selection and Preparation

In order for bloodroot to thrive, it needs to be planted in the correct location. The plant prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil with a pH level of 5.5 to 6.5. In the wild, the flower is found in open woodland areas with humus rich soil, so gardeners should prepare soil with organic matter such as compost before planting the flower. Low pH levels can be raised with lime.

The flower prefers 70% to 80% shade. Plant the flower in raised beds shaded by tall hardwood trees. If no trees are nearby, an artificial shade can also be created by erecting a polyporpylene shade structure or a wood lath structure at least 7 feet tall above the raised beds. The two opposite ends must remain open to allow enough air flow.

Incorrect Planting

Plantings should be staggered 6-inches apart and placed in the soil with the bud pointing up. Then they should be covered with at least 3 inches of leaf mulch or shredded hardwood mulch. Plant in late spring or early summer.

Seeds should be planted mid to late spring two inches apart at approximately 1/4 inch deep. Cover the seeds with a 2-inch layer of moist leaf mulch. Don't expect any growth until the following year during the second spring.

Plant in areas away from pets and children. The roots especially are toxic. Although the Natives used bloodroot for medicinal purposes, eating the plant without properly preparing it can cause vomiting, visual impairment, heart palpitations, fainting and shortness of breath. Touching the roots can cause skin lesions, so be sure to wear gardening gloves.

Lack of Protection Against Insects and Diseases

Slugs can significantly damage bloodroot. Control methods should be used before the plants get damaged. Standard control methods like copper strips, beer traps and diatomaceous earth work well to prevent a slug problem before it begins. Deer, turkey and groundhogs tend to forage for this wildflower. If these animals are in your area, you will need to fence in the area where the flowers are planted and provide an alternate food source for the animals.

There are three main diseases that affect bloodroot: Botrytis (gray mold, leaf blight), Alternaria leaf blight and root rot (Pythium). All these diseases can reduce root growth or cause premature defoliation. Proactive measures are best in preventing these types of disease. Do not crowd plants and avoid planting in places with low air circulation. If you find the disease in just a few of the flowers, pull them out and destroy them. If it appears the whole garden is infected, go to your local garden center and purchase organic control methods suggested by the staff.