Growing hellebores: Helleborus orientalis tutu

Growing hellebores

Are you a member of the hellebore appreciation society yet? I certainly am! They are a garden favourite because they’re one of the first flowers to bloom in spring. They brighten up the winter garden while we are all longing for some colour. They are expensive, but they give a great return on investment.

Helleborus merlin
Helleborus Merlin in my garden

4 reasons to grow hellebores

If you are not familiar with them yet, here are some great reasons to grow hellebores:

  1. The flowers are long lasting. The petals (the petals are actually tepals, but I don’t think I have ever heard anyone use that word) do not fall, but remain on the plant, sometimes for many months. As the flower ages, the colour slowly fades into different colours.
  2. They have beautiful, leathery, deep green leaves and are (almost) evergreen. Many gardeners advice to remove the leaves as the flowers appear, giving the plant more light and air. I don’t, but mine have never had black spot.
  3. They are easy to grow and don’t need much care. Even the most inexperienced gardener can grow them! The hardy plants will return and flower year after year with practically no attention or trouble. They will grow almost anywhere and bring colour to shady borders, between shrubs and under trees.
  4. Cut flowers and leaves last long in a vase and make beautiful flower arrangements. Since they don’t come cheap, even at the flower market, you’d better grow your own.

What’s not to love?

Helleborus merlin

How to make hellebores last in the vase?

I love hellebores in a flower arrangement, but there is a lot of discussion going on about how to get the cut stems to last longer in the vase. Some people dip them in boiling water, some people slice the stem lengthwise and some people wait and only harvest them when they are ripe (when they are forming/have formed seed pods). I didn’t do any of these things and have some stems lasting in a vase for a month today! It’s probably just beginners luck. Next year, I’ll do some experimenting.

If you cut them and all of these methods don’t work, just pinch off the flower heads and float them in a bowl of water where they’ll last for days. They will make a beautiful floral table decoration.

Helleborus-cloverhome

Hellebores typically bear nodding blooms (drooping downwards) even though plant breeders have succeeded in growing hellebores without and up-facing flowers. Some, more traditional, gardeners dislike the outward- or upward-facing ones. They think you should get down on the ground to admire them, the discomfort will make you appreciate them more.

Helleborus merlin

Some breeders have produced hellebores with double flowers, but I don’t really like them. I don’t know why but it just doesn’t look like a hellebore. Besides, there are so many single flower species available, colours varying from white to yellow, from pink to dark purple, flowers spotted or veined, the choice is endless.

What to look for when buying hellebores?

With so many varieties to choose from, what should you look for? My tips for buying hellebores:

  • Look for a hellebore that doesn’t nod too much, to be able to appreciate it without having to bend down.
  • If they do nod, pay attention to the back of the tepals, which can be beautiful too.
  • To do so: buy plants when they are in bloom so that you can pick exactly the ones you like.
  • Don’t economise, they are worth the investment.

Helleborus argutifolius

I’m looking forward to expanding my collection next year. What are your favourite varieties, any you would like to recommend?

If you’d like to read more, or better see more, of these pretty flowers, have a look at these beautiful hellebores in a vase, beautiful hellebores grown at an allotment and a bounty of beautiful blooms grown by a farmer-florist.

9 thoughts on “Growing hellebores”

  1. Wonderful photos and interesting words. I love hellebores too. We have about 40 different kinds in our garden. You can see some in my blogs.

  2. Oh so beautiful photos you have made! Stunning!!
    We have hellebores in our garden, they were already in the garden when we bought the house. I have to admit that I didnŽt notice them a lot in the first years. This year I totally fell in love with them❀. Now I learned that there are so many different ones.
    So I will have an eye on them next time at the market, Thank you Pauline!

    1. Thank you, Silke!
      Before we moved into this house I didn’t even know what they were, so you are not alone there 😉
      Now I love them and seeing all those different varieties makes me greedy. I will have an eye on them too next year.

  3. These are wonderful plants. I didn’t know that about their petals either. Who wouldn’t thunk it?? Tepals? A great way to save $ is to split them and replant in your own garden. I have a few friends with Hellebores and I plan to raid their gardens before the autumn is out next year. I love the Ivory Prince one the best at the moment.

    1. Thanks for the tip about splitting them, Elisha. I have never tried that, my plants aren’t very large though. The Helleborus argutifolius seems to grow very slow.
      I googled your Ivory Prince, it does look gorgeous!

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