The Right Place
Bleeding hearts prefer light shade, and will grow in full sun only in areas with cool summers. They do well in woodsy areas that have dappled light. Their fringed cousins can handle more sun. Plant either type in a light-textured, moist, soil rich in organic matter that is on the acid side (pH 6.0 to 6.5). They won't grow well in clayey or waterlogged soils. Site them in a sheltered area, away from wind. Plant bleeding hearts in early spring or in the fall, and space them 2 feet apart
Planting Nursery Stock
Common bleeding heart plants are usually packaged bare-root, similar to the way hybrid tea roses are sold. Plant them in early spring or in the fall. They have deep, fleshy roots, so loosen the soil with a trowel to a depth of a foot or more, remove rocks and debris, and add organic matter such as peat moss, chopped leaves or compost to enrich the soil if it is poor. Level the planting area and then dig a hole about as deep as the plant roots are long, so that the crown of the plant (where the roots meet the stems) is at soil level. Set the plant in the hole and fill in around the bare roots with loose soil, firming it gently to eliminate air pockets. Then water well and mulch the area over the roots with some organic material.
Fringed bleeding hearts usually are sold as potted seedlings from the nursery or garden center. Prepare the planting area as described above. Dig a hole about the size of the container the seedling is in. Gently remove the plant from its pot and loosen or clip off any roots that are tangled or matted from being confined to the container. Set the plant in the hole, taking care that it is at the same level in the soil as it was in its pot. Fill in the hole with plain, loose soil, firm it around the plant and water well. Plant containerized plants anytime during the growing season, spaced about 1 foot apart. In 4 or 5 seasons, each plant will develop into a large clump that will need dividing.