Hellebores: Care

Care starts with planting. Prepare a big hole, two spades deep and approximately 15 inches (30 cm) in diameter. Mix in sufficient organic material (compost or preferably well-rotted manure) through the soil and plant the Hellebores at the same depth as in the pot. If the plant is torn, do not plant it deeper than the original depth! If the plant is planted too deep, it will flower badly or not at all. After planting, give ample water.

In spring, it may be necessary to protect the flowers against a combination of hard frost, wind and sunshine. Especially the combination of these three could permanently damage the flowers. A simple means of protection is to cover the plant with a bucket.

With frost the pedicels of Helleborus x hybridus in particular can lie down. This truly is a sad sight, but as soon as the temperature rises, the stem will straighten again.

In summer you may apply some lime or general fertilizer. In dry, warm periods it may be necessary to irrigate. Dehydration of the plants will result in poor growth and poor flowering in the next year.

To prevent the plants from propagating themselves by seed, you may cut off the pedicles as deep as possible in late May. Do not put the cut off pedicles in the compost heap, but throw them away (or bin them). This way you will avoid moulds in the compost from affecting the plants.

Late October I always cut off all leaves (only for the stemless species, see the chapter “The species“). Again, do not put the cut off leaves in the compost heap, but throw them away. The advantage of cutting the leaves is that the leaves will not damage the flowers of neighbouring plants when the wind blows. Also, in my experience, mice will not eat away the flower buds without the comfortable shelter of leaves.

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