JOHN’S JOURNAL

How to Grow Hellebores

It’s a joy to see flowers emerging again across the nursery and the Hellebores are always one of the earliest perennials to start off with, with masses of pretty nodding blooms. Now is the perfect time to appreciate them and if you haven’t got them in your garden then you should be asking yourself why? With them being very low maintenance along with being really reliable for mass displays of flowers they are high up the list of plants to include if you have a space in your borders.

The orientalis types or more commonly known as the Lenten Roses are some of the most common and very showy as well, with pastel shades of white, pink and purple downward facing flowers some plain in colour and some with the most beautiful detailing, perfect for sun or dry shade and the flowers will last right through until May with them drying out after they bloom and seed pods will then emerge from the centre, so let them set seed and you may get some colour variations to look forward to later on down the line.

Then there is many niger hybrids, commonly known as The Christmas Rose which bears pure white flowers from November through until late February there is also other shades of cream and pink, and then there’s so many other types, all combinations of other species, bearing evergreen leaves and different shades of coloured flowers, at the nursery under the living roof we have a wide array of different types and when the sun peeps through the blooms really glow.

Hellebores are some of the few plants that have the ability to thrive in dry shade, under trees is just like any other part of the garden during the winter months, moist and sunny, however once the leaves emerge on the trees the ground is cast into shade and suddenly becomes drier along with competition for space amongst tree roots, but Hellebores love it. They put their roots deeper down than most perennials, rooting down into the 18inch mark, so when you plant them make sure to dig over the hole and remove the contents and then dig over the bottom of the hole as well. Many of them will also flower without much feeding, but I’d always advise to throw them a handful of fertiliser when you’re feeding the rest of the garden as you’ll get that extra bit out of them then.

So if you haven’t grown them before they may look familiar and are certainly worth adding to your plant collection, fully frost hardy and easy to succeed with, tucked in at the front of a flower bed they will come back every year with their delightful blooms and always help remind you that Spring is just around the corner!

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

What soil do Hellebores like?

Just a general soil is fine, they thrive in clay soil as long as you open it up with some organic matter when you plant them and then just make sure it’s not in a part of the garden that’s in standing water during the winter, under trees is perfect as the tree roots help drain the soil and they can then cope with the dry soil in the Summer months.

Can you grow Hellebores in pots?

Yes they will happily grow in a pot as long as it’s big enough, for one plant something 30cm across by 40cm tall would be perfect and you could then bring the pot to the forefront when it’s in flower and then tuck it away in the shade until it’s time comes around again. Make sure to feed annually and use a John Innes No. 3 compost 

What should I feed hellebores with?

You can mulch them with rotted manure or spent mushroom compost or if you are using Vitax Q4 across your garden then happily use that as well, just make sure not to get any pellets in the middle of the stems. You can also use liquid feeds like seaweed extract or Tomato food as soon as they begin to flower to help maximise the size of the flowers and also help promote more.

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

 

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Helleborus Anna’s Red

A beautiful hybrid bearing many dusky red flowers from February till April, its new foliage then emerges attractively marbled and with a pink flush. Growing to 30cm tall its one of the shorter varieties and looks beautiful when growing alongside Snowdrops