Plant Now: Hellebores


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Hellebores are a real treat in the winter garden, especially since more and more of the new varieties are arriving with beautiful pink or deep purple coats – my favourites. I love them all, though. They look dainty, but they’re hardy, and they’re easy to grow and care for.

Hellebores don’t like direct sunlight, so select a planting location that receives filtered sunlight most of the day. Under the canopy of a deciduous tree or shrub is an ideal location. Don’t give them too much shade though. While they are certainly shade lovers, most do better with some sun (not full sun).

Hellebores need well draining soil that is rich in organic matter, much like that found on a forest floor.

Sadly, hellebores don’t last very long in the vase because once cut, the stems don’t take up water. Not naturally, in any case. You can force them to do so though (do this within an hour of picking). Heat a saucepan of water with floral preservative dissolved in it to 70 degrees C (use a candy thermometer). Recut the stems and immediately dip the ends into the water. Hold them on a slant so that the flower heads are held out of the way of the steam. Keep them in the water for 20 seconds. Remove the stems and place them in a bucket of cold water. This shocks them into taking up the hot water with the preservative. You will get an extra 3-5 days vase life from your hellebores, but you can only do this once.

The image at the top comes from Love ‘n Fresh Flowers and includes bearded irises, ranunculi, tulips and hellebore seed heads. A beautiful bouquet for a spring wedding.

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