It is always fun to try a new plant in the garden. A number of years ago I was given a seedling of bloody dock — also called bloodwort, wood dock or bloody sorrel — by a friend whose plant had self-seeded in her garden. Its Latin name is Rumex sanguineus. I planted it in the garden — this was midsummer — and watched it grow a bit, but was afraid I would lose it over the winter so potted it up and wintered it in the sunroom. The next spring I planted it outdoors again and it developed to a nice size so I left it out for the winter. The following spring it was in good shape and I have had it ever since. It seems to be quite hardy for our climate zone.
Bloody dock is grown as a foliage plant although it does produce star-shaped, greenish flowers that gradually produce reddish-purple seed heads. I found the flowers and seeds not that attractive so I cut them off. The foliage, however, is quite stunning. The lance-shaped, heavily textured leaves are dark green with dark-red veining.
This plant will grow in sun or part shade although it does not react well to really hot sun. If it dries out its leaves will wilt and in prolonged drought it will shed its leaves. It is a great bog garden plant or for use around a pond where there is lots of water. Bloody dock is a unique accent plant with foliage quite unlike that of any other common plant. It is well worth trying.