HOW TO PROPAGATE HELLEBORES
Like many popular garden plans, propagating hellebores can be kept as simple or as involved as you like. Should you wish to take the easiest routes then you can increase you hellebore stocks by using either division, or by sowing collected seed. If you really want to be really lazy though, simply remove naturally grown seedlings from beneath the parent plant, and pot them on.
However, for those of you who are up for a bit more of a challenge, you also have an opportunity - with some of these species - to enter the secretive world of hand pollination, a particular technique which can open the eyes to a world of possibilities.
Propagating Hellebores by Division
Using a large fork, dig around the perimeter and then lift the entire specimen from the soil as one large root ball, try to keep as much of the root system as intact as possible. When the rootball is sat solidly on the ground, use a heavy spade split the rootball evenly through the middle. Alternatively, by using a second fork, you can dig them both - back to back - into the middle of the plant and then levering the fork handles against each other, gently tease the roots apart. The larger the specimen, the more times it can be divided this way. With a little care its possible to divide hellebores at any time of year, but you will get the best results from lifting in either late spring and early autumn.
Propagating Hellebores by Seed.
Sow your seeds directly into 9cm pots leaving them to rest on the top of the compost. Now gently cover them with a thin layer of washed horticultural grit and leave outside in a warm shaded area. Over the summer period make sure that the compost remains moist but not water-logged. Depending on the variety, the seedlings can begin to show as early as autumn although other species may not appear until the following spring. When growing species hellbores from seed you will need to be aware of Hellebotus vercarius as - rather peculiarly - it will quickly die back after producing only a couple of leaves. This is normal though and after a long second dormant period a vigourous growth of new foliage will return the following autumn. With all hellebores seedlings, even when they are properly in leaf you will still need patience as you are not likely to see their first flowers for at least another couple of years
Below are brief outlines as to which method of propagation works best with which hellebore varieties.
Helleborus nigra – the Christmas Rose. This species can be propagated by seed or division as both techniques work well.
Helleborus argutifolius – Corsican Hellebore. The best way to propagate this species plant is by seed, particularly as it manages to self-seed so readily. If you are growing them for yourself rather than commercially, check for the healthiest seedlings growing around the parent plant, and lift them trying to disturb the root system as little as possible. Pot them on into a seed and potting compost and give them a good water to help bind the roots to the new compost.
Helleborus viridis - the Green Hellebore. Something of a required taste, its large, cup-shaped, yellow/green flowers are almost always a point of discussion when in bloom. Again, this species is best propagated by seed
Helleborus foetidus – the Stinking Hellebore. Don’t be put off by its name as this plant has perhaps the most stunning architectural habit of all the hellebores. Once again this species is best propagated by seed as it doesn’t take well to propagation by division.
Helleborus X sternii . This hybrid is a cross between Helleborus argutifolius and Heleeborus lividus. Once again this variety is best propagated by seed.
For further information click onto:
How do you Grow Hellebores from Seed
The Stories Legends, Myths and Folklore of Hellebores
Hellebores and Hand Pollination
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