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Growing Hellebores

Suitable climates for Hellebores

White picoteeClimatically Hellebores will grow best if they experience some cold in winter. Summer heat is not a problem as long as conditions are not too humid. Hellebores are not troubled by frost or snow.

In terms of climatic conditions, anywhere in Victoria and Tasmania is suitable. In NSW, coastal areas up to about Sydney are suitable. Inland higher altitude areas in NSW which experience cold winters, from around Canberra, through Orange and as far north as the Queensland border are well suited to growing Hellebores. The suitable inland climatic range extends into Queensland at least as far as Toowoomba. In South Australia the more temperate climates between Mount Gambier and Adelaide are fine for Hellebores.

Soil type and position in the garden

Plum PurpleHellebores are tolerant of most soil types and soil pH also does not seem to be an issue for them. The main exception is very sandy soils where Hellebores usually struggle. In all soils the addition of organic matter in the form of compost will assist growth.

In the garden Hellebores will grow best if they receive shade for most of the day from the hot summer sun. The amount of sun they will tolerate will be influenced by climate, so Hellebores in Tasmanian gardens can tolerate more summer sun exposure than those in Albury, growth and flowering will be improved if the plants receive at least some sun in winter, so a position under deciduous trees or where winter sun can reach them is ideal.

Helleborus x hybridus can be grown in pots. However they have extensive root systems and will require regular potting on into eventually large tubs. Hellebores purchased during winter in 140mm pots should be potted onto 200mm pots in spring and then 300mm tubs the following winter. If possible it is best to plant them out rather than grow them in pots.

Annual maintenance guide for Hellebores

Primrose YellowHellebores are not difficult to grow but here are a few simple maintenance tips which will keep you and your Hellebores happy:

Late Autumn to early Winter

This is the start of the annual growth period for most Hellebores.

For Helleborus x hybridus the old foliage should be removed when the new seasons growth can be seen pushing up from the underground rhizome. This will vary by climate and season but is usually between April and June.

The May to June period is also the time to feed your Hellebores. Any type of complete fertiliser is suitable - liquid, powder or pellets - as long as it contains the three main nutrient elements (N, P and K). As with other members of the Ranunculaceae family (eg. Clematis, Delphiniums) Hellebores will take quite a lot of feeding. A sprinkling of dolomite lime will be appreciated by Hellebores as well.

SDouble White Spottedpring and Summer

All Hellebores will appreciate mulching in spring before the heat of summer sets in. Some additional summer watering will usually be necessary until plants become fully established.

Spent flowers can be removed prior to seed dropping in mid-spring if you don't want lots of seedlings popping up the following winter.