Helleborus H. niger

lil_rhody(z6b RI coast)January 7, 2004

I just bought some seeds and know nothing about this plant (Helleborus H. niger) other than what it states on the package, "hardy perennial, flowers from November to March".

I live in zone 6b Rhode Island, and can't ever recall seeing any plant flower here in winter. I'll be starting the seeds early March; can anyone elaborate more on this plant such as likes and dis-likes, care, sun/shade, etc....
Thanks in advance.

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jgwoodard(USDA z7 TN)

It is commonly suggested that niger prefers a neutral or alkaline soil...and one that is well-drained. It can be one of the trickier hellebores, though many fine specimens are grown in a variety of environments. Mine are all healthy, though a little more sluggish than the hybrids.
One thing to keep in mind is, unless they came from the southern hemisphere, your seeds are probably from last year's crop. They typically like to go through a warm period followed by a cold period followed by another warm period before germinating (they will certainly germinate at 35 F..such as in a refrigerator, and ideally they should be kept moist during this entire cycle...though properly dry-stored seed often germinate just fine).
So, if you are planting directly in the ground, they may not germinate until the following winter/spring.
My seedlings are beginning to sprout outdoors now. I generally sow fresh seed in late spring, and they germinate the following late-winter.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2004 at 3:52PM
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lil_rhody(z6b RI coast)

Thanks Joseph. My seeds came hermetically sealed and I will sow them indoors this March. If the plants are placed outdoors this Spring, is it possible to see flowers next winter or will it take 2-3 years for flowers? This could very well be the start of numerous varieties of Helleborus.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2004 at 7:42PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

There was much good information in Joseph's post; I;m wondering why you would still like to wait until March to sow your seeds. They are of short viability, and the sooner the better, and given the length of time germination requires, you won't have seedlings until summer, not Spring if not sown for two more months. The plants will not be of blooming size until they are at least two, and more likely three years old.

From Clothier's Database:
Helleborus argutifolius, croaticus, dyclophyllus, dumetorum, foetidus, lividus, multifidus, niger, odorus, orientalis, purpurescens, vesicarius, viridis, and x sternii , Pour hot water over seeds, let soak 1-3 days until swelling noticeable. Sow at 22ºC (71ºF) for 6 wks or more. Move to -4 to +4ºC (24-39ºF) for 6-8 wks. Then raise the temperature to 10ºC (50ºF). If no germination in 4-6 wks, repeat the cycle from the beginning. If the warm/cold cycles were not long enough, a new warm/cold cycle is needed. short viable.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2004 at 1:53AM
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