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Hellebore

12/29/2010 in winter gardening

About Helebore

Helebore are a nice addition to the winter shade garden… are members of the ranunculus family…. the Runuculaceae are toxic and deer-proof, you wouldn’t want to eat them, but in this day and age of explosive deer populations, we all need to consider deer when selecting our ornamentals.

Hellebore colonize nicely.

hellebore bed

Hellebore come in some very pretty colours.

first bloom of the season

Hellebore come in unusual shapes.

helleborus foetidus

Hellebore Bloom Period

Hellebore is a winter-bloomer, often starting to bloom here in middle Georgia as early as December.

Barry Glick AKA “The King of Hellebore” says that he has blooms as early as November.

The problem with hellebore is that their blooms fade to green. They’ve peaked by March here …. They will still look like they’re in bloom well into summer, it’s just that their blooms will be green.

We kinda need to work on a colour-fast plant….

In one of my gardens, there is a variety (helleborus nigercors), that starts out green, and then “fades” into colour… What would happen if it was crossed with Helleborus orientalis?

Hellebore Propagation

The hellebore nursery bed makes propagation easy. The seedlings come up all around the mother plants, the next year after blooming (12 months or so).
In a few years, (they grow really slow) when the babies are large enough to handle, I move them into a seedling bed to grow out…
I’ll get 3 or 4 hundred mature plants out of this bed in a year or 2. I’ve already begun digging flowering plants from this bed that I created just last year.

Considering what hellebores cost, this is a very effective way to expand the shade garden… AND share with friends.

seedling bed

Helebore can be slow to get going when ordered through the mail…

But they are so pretty, it’s well worth however long it takes!

I found hellebore providers in Canada when I googled hellebore. This suggests to me that hellebore would make a valuable addition to most winter gardens.

building the soil

Hellebore appreciate lots of organic material. When I started working in “Anita’s garden“, I put down several inches of wood chips. I’ve repeated this several times over the years.

Now they look like they’ve taken over & need thinning, they’re crowding out the trillium, solomon’s seal, & wild ginger!

I’ve seen gardens where people had plugged container-grown [hellebore] plants in a hole in the existing soil. The hellebores looked sorry, like they wished to be put out of their misery…

There’s really no way to have a decent garden without building the soil.

Do you have a leaf pile? Spread several inches of material from the bottom of that pile, on the bed where you want to plant hellebore, & other woodland plants. Have a burn pile? spread some of your wood ash over the bed and turn it under, see if you don’t get better results.

We’re never really done building our soil, God spent geological eras creating our topsoil, modern ag practices destroyed it in a couple of centuries. You need to add something to feed it everytime that you do anything with it.


I first published this hellebore discussion on my shade group at myspace in March 08.
As the groups on myspace have been shut down since forever with no indication of coming back any time soon… I’ve chosen to revisit the subject of hellebore gardening here.

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3 responses to Hellebore

  1. Kat said on 12/29/2010

    Nice post. I think these are such cool plants. I actually like the way the flowers fade to green and hold on. For me it’s an added bonus.

  2. stone said on 01/01/2011

    Thanks Kat…. Do you have hellebore blooms yet in your California garden?

  3. Mario said on 12/28/2011

    Amen! I all begins with the soil. The hellebore look fantastic. I’m a big fan of ‘Ivory Prince’.

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