Hellebore seedlings

nckvilledudes(7a NC)February 18, 2010

First time starter of hellebore seedlings from seed (to be quite honest, a good friend sent me seeds which had developed roots and I potted them up and now they are producing top growth). Following is a picture of the seedlings.

My questions are when do you begin individually potting them up and when do you start putting them outside. I realize that hellebores are cold hardy but these have not been outside yet so will need to be hardened off. I guess the second part of the question is when do you know that the plants are sturdy enough to stand being outside so you don't have to worry about them freezing back and not coming back?

Thanks!

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I think in theory you could pot up most of those seedlings now, but easiest may be wait until you are satisfied with the amount of germination in your pots. That way you can tip the entire contents of the pot out and lay on its side, gently tease the seedlings apart with some of the sowing medium intact without injuring roots, still not be sacrificing any of the seeds.

Germinated indoors, you are right in assuming they will need hardening off. You're in one of the areas that has been having unpredictable weather this winter? I'd wait until after danger of hardest frosts to begin acclimating them to outdoors. That could be as early as next month for me - a former poster in a Z5 always used mid April as his begin to move outside date. The seedlings would take freezing temps and remain evergreen if they had germinated outdoors, but you don't want to take a chance on freezing these now.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 12:45PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Morz8, thanks for the response. All that are up are all that are going to come up. I originally had the seedlings in other smaller pots and potted them up into the pots that they are in now (one gallon sized with the top cut down somewhat). Each pot has a different sort of hellebore seedlings in it.

I have a lot of other seeds to start before spring and need the space under the shop lights that these seedlings are under hence the reason I asked about potting up each individual plant and getting them outside, at least when the weather was cooperative. I may start putting them outside on warmer days on the weekends when I can move them in and out as needed (gradually increasing the amount of time outside). Yep, here in NC we have had more snow and colder weather than we have had in many years.

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 1:44PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Another thought, as your pots seem to have some depth to allow for root growth...

Hellebore seedlings roots tend to grow down/in length before they become wide. You could leave them in the pots in which they are now growing to allow for least amount of space under your lights...I think those pots should accommodate them for a few more weeks.

I normally sow upwards of 20-25 seeds in square 4x5" deep pots. Those seedlings germinating outdoors for me here in March are plenty comfortable in those pots until early June or so when I seem to do the potting up to individual pots. They will have more than one set of true leaves at that age, roots are often the entire depth of 5" but not hopelessly intertwined.

I think I'm more cautious about exposing the young plants to possible freezing weather while still containerized - I lost a half dozen that I hadn't expected to suffer damage to a cold snap in early December. No issues to those in the ground, but the containerized 1 yr olds are gone.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 6:00PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Thanks Morz8. Will probably do as you suggest and leave them in the pots they are in until warmer weather arrives in mid to late April. Then I can separate them and pot them up individually. I may try getting them some sunshine at least on the weekends when I at home and when the weather conditions are favorable, making sure to insure that they don't get sun burned by too much too soon.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 7:55PM
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