Hellebores are a delight in the garden from Christmas through to Easter. The Christmas rose is well known for it’s beautiful white flowers in the depths of winter but there are many more and with a little knowledge of their requirements everyone can give a Hellebore a home.
Scientific name is Helleborus and this comes from the Greek ‘helle’ (to take away) and ‘bora’ (food). The name refers to the poisonous nature of the plant causing vomiting! They belong to the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. Deer and slugs don’t eat them but they can get a few diseases worth watching out for. They are herbaceous or evergreen perennials which flower during the winter months and are incredibly hardy. They are also a source of food for pollinating insects in early Spring.
How to grow Hellebores
Plant as soon as you can after purchase in moist but free draining soil, they don’t much like waterlogging or drought. Most of them are happy in light shade and the white flowered varieties are particularly effective at brightening up a dull spot.
One thing many people do not do is to remove the old leaves to allow the new flowers to be emerge. This can also help reduce disease.
They can be divided in Autumn and propagated by fresh seed. Often you will find they cross pollinate freely in the garden and many new plants emerge in the surrounding areas.
They do suffer from a few diseases and one of the most dramatic is a virus called Hellebore black death, which can be spread by aphids and is a death sentence but not to be confused with the more common fungal leaf spot.
So providing they are healthy plants planted in the right place they should last for many years and brighten up the dullest day!
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