Hellebores are evergreen, perennial, blooming plants that are hardy in zones 4 through 9. They are sometimes referred to as Lenten rose or Christmas rose. The large saucer or bell-shaped flowers of hellebores come in muted shades of pink, green, browns, burgundy and cream. It is a slow growing, compact plant, which belongs to the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family of plants. Growing hellebores can be challenging, but once established they are one of the first plants to bloom in spring.
Fill up a 4-inch pot to 1/2 inch from the top of the rim with a compost-based seed starting mix. Firm the soil in the pot so it is even and level.
Place approximately 5 to 10 helleborus seeds onto the surface of the soil in the pot. Push the seeds ¼ to 3/8 inch into the soil. Cover with no more than a very fine layer of the seed starting mix, approximately 1/16 of an inch.
Put the pots into a black plastic bag. Or hellebores.org recommends covering the pots with a very thin layer of rotted pine bark, approximately 1/8 inch deep. Place the pots where they will remain at 68 to 70 degrees F for 90 days. Keep the soil in the pots damp; mist the pots with water every three to four days.
At the end of 90 days, place the pots into your refrigerator for another 90 days. Check on them at least three times a week. Make sure to keep the soil in each of the pots moist.
At the end of the 90 days, remove pots from the refrigerator. Put them where they will remain at 68 to 70 degrees F. Germination typically is very slow and begins 6 months after sowing of the seeds. According to hellebores.org, germination can take as long as 18 months. Once you see signs of germination, remove from the plastic bags. Keep the pots in a location where the temperature is 68 to 70 degree F, where they will receive 10 to 12 hours of light per day. Begin watering from below. (See Tips for how to water from the base of pots.)
Once the seedlings are well established, which can take as long as a year, harden them off after all chance of frost has passed in the spring. Place them outside for three to four hours a day in an area that has filtered light for two weeks prior to planting them outside.
Things You Will Need
- Helleborus seeds
- Seed starting mix
- 4-inch pots
- Black plastic bag
- Plant mister
- Watering tray
- Every two to three weeks, fertilize your hellebores with a balanced, liquid based fertilizer, such as 10-10-10. Follow manufactures directions for dilution per quart, or gallon, of water.
- To water from below, place pots into a shallow watering/propagation tray. Pour water into the tray to a depth of 1 inch.
- Hellebores have a very long root system; they do not take well to being transplanted.
- It's recommend to plant helleborous seeds outdoors in the middle of summer, and no later than August.
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