Due to extreme weather conditions and power outages, The Garden of St Erth & Cloudehill gardens are closed until further notice. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Due to extreme weather conditions and power outages, The Garden of St Erth & Cloudehill gardens are closed until further notice. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Hellebores

Hellebores are a winter favourite of flower lovers. Otherwise known as winter roses, they are so named for their abundant decadent blooms appearing in late winter and flowering well into spring. Happiest planted in shade, their foliage will add interest to tricky sun-poor areas of the garden in the summer, and their flowers light up usually dark corners of the garden with colour and dreamy flower forms in winter. Hellebores benefit from the cold of a southern or inland winter to really thrive. Hardy plants, they are tolerant of hot summers as long as they are protected from direct sun and provided with some additional water during their first summer. Hellebores come in many colours, shades and forms and when planted on mass create a whimsical and woodland garden vista.

Climate and position for Hellebores

Victoria or Tasmania is the ideal climate for Hellebores. Coastal areas up to and including Sydney are suitable, inland areas ok up to Toowoomba. Heat ok, but dislike high humidity. H. x hybridus are the most adaptable variety. 

Hellebores are not troubled by cold or frost, so avoid very sandy soils where Hellebores usually struggle. Hellebores need good drainage and do not like very wet or water-logged conditions. 

In the garden, Hellebores require shade in summer but good light to full sun in winter when in flower. A position under deciduous trees is ideal. Hellebores do not preform well if constantly shaded by evergreen shrubs and trees.

Planting Hellebores

Don't leave Hellebore in the pots you purchased them in; plant out or pot up ASAP to enable them to establish before summer. 

Hellebores are best grown in-ground, but if you want to succeed in pots, H. x hybridus varieties are best but will require regular potting on to eventually large tubs (30-40cm).

Plant Hellebores approx. 60cm apart. Most Hellebores grow to about 45cm tall with a spread of around 60cm.

Prepare the ground by deeply digging and incorporate some organic matter. If looking congested, loosen the roots a little before planting.

Plants may need some extra watering over the first summer in the ground. We usually find that in subsequent summers, they become quite tolerant of dry conditions. Remove old foliage of H. x hybridus plants right down to the ground when new growth appears, typically in mid-late autumn, before flowering.

Hellebores are best grown in the ground

Hellebores are best grown in-ground rather than in pots. Plants in pots will need more water over summer and regular annual feeding (see below). Of the different varieties of Hellebore, Helleborus x hybridus do best in pots. However, they will require regular potting on eventually large tubs (30-40cm diameter), due to an extensive root system. H foetidus, H. argutifolius and H. x sternii generally will not grow well in pots as larger plants. 

Helleborus x hybridus varieties will generally grow to about 45cm tall with a spread of about 60cm and they should be planted about 60cm apart. Taller growing species (H. argutifolius, H. foetidus) may get up to about 75cm tall and should be planted about 60cm apart.

Caring for Hellebores

Mid to late autumn into early winter (April to June) is the start of the annual growth period for most Hellebores, depending on climate and season. This is the best time to do most of the yearly maintenance jobs on your Hellebores: feeding and cleaning up old foliage, moving and dividing if necessary. By this time of the year, the old foliage will be looking a bit ragged, and new growth can be seen pushing up from the base of the plant. 

Once you see that new growth on Helleborus x hybridus, you can safely cut back old foliage right to the ground before winter. In spring, mulch the plants and remove spent flowers if you don't want lots of seedlings popping up the following winter. It is a good idea to thin out/remove such seedlings to prevent plants from becoming overcrowded.

Fertilising Hellebores

Late autumn is also the time to feed your Hellebores. Any type of complete fertiliser is suitable, provided it contains the three main nutrient elements (N, P and K). Hellebores also appreciate sprinkling of dolomite lime if planted in acidic soils.

Transplanting and dividing Hellebores

If you need to move or divide H. x hybridus plants, this is also the right time. Dig deeply to avoid damage to the roots. Large clumps of H. x hybridus can be divided with a sharp spade or large knife. 

Treatment of taller species Hellebores (H. argutifolius, H. foetidus) is a bit different. The old flowering stems should be removed in spring after flowering has finished. Cut the old stems down to the ground. They cannot be divided but will usually produce lots of seedlings which you can move around during winter.

Hellebore pest and diseases

Watch for aphids as the weather warms up in spring. Use whatever insecticide you prefer, but use multiple applications and spray the underside of foliage.

When do young Hellebores start to flower?

Hellebores usually need to be 2-3 years old before they will begin to flower. 

 

Information kindly suppled by Hellebore specialist, Post Office Nursery

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