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Growing Hellebores in the Garden

Posted by admin on December - 20 - 2012

One can use hellebores as part of mixed herbaceous planting in the garden or indeed associated with shrubs.  But maybe the ideal situation is to use them in areas of the garden planted for spring, possibly under deciduous trees with a  herbaceous border in front.  They associate beautifully with snowdrops (Galanthus) and many other spring bulbs, rhizomes, corms and tubers such as Eranthis, Leucojum vernum, Scilla, Chinodoxa, Arum italicum var pictumAnemone nemorosa forms and hybrids, Erythronium,  Cyclamen coum and  Crocus thommasinianus.  Hellebores, particularly hybridus types, also work well with other woodlandperennials such as Primula elatior

Arum italicum ‘Pictum’

and vulgaris cultivars, ferns, Pulmonaria, Lamium orvala, Hacquetia epipactis, European Epimedium and hybrids, Lathyrus vernus, Cardmine sp, larger Hepatica sp and Euphorbia amygdaloides var robbiae.   Helleborus argutifolius, lividus, and better than either of these, the hybrid H x sternii, like a well drained spot and more sun.   Helleborus foetidus seems to do well in very dry soils; we have a patch that thrives under a large holly where little else grows.

Helleborus x hybridus and some other species produce large quantities of seed, if one wants to preserve the forms and not get swamped by inferior open pollinated seedlings, removal of the flower stems once they have faded is sensible.  Otherwise collect the seed and or seedlings and grow them on elsewhere, selecting the ones you want to keep when they flower. Removal of poor lemoval of the flower stems once they have faded is sensible.  Otherwise collect the seed and or seedlings and grow them on elsewhere, selecting the ones you want to keep when they flower

Lamium orvala

Corydalis elata

 

Removal of poor looking foliage in late winter and a general fertiliser application (eg vitax q4) in late winter will help. Foliage still in good condition should be left if possible as it is a food manufacturing engine for the plant. Helleborus x hybridus and most common species and hybrids are on the whole of easy cultivation, when the plant’s origin is considered and they’re planted appropriately.  If anything, the problem from a nurseryman’s point of view is that they thrive, get larger, flower reliably and don’t need to be replaced!  Various fungal diseases can afflict Hellebores, black spot being the most common.  Removing and burning effected foliage is usually enough and spray with a wide ranging fungicide if the problem persists.  Helleborus niger, in particular,  needs a spray of a fungicide a couple of times a year in order to thrive in most gardens.   Aphids love hellebores; small infestations can be squashed but a soap based spray usually works with a chemical insecticide rarely needed in a garden situation.

Cyclamen hederifolium 

 

 

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Double Pink Spotted’