Hellebores in pots?

Rachel_Lexington(7b SC)March 16, 2005

I bought a young plant from the rack at the entrance to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden last month. I was preparing a planting spot for it in my new shade garden, but now there is the possibility we will not be staying in this house for the long term. Do hellebores do well in containers? If so, how large should the pot be? I would like to take this plant with me in the event that we do end up relocating, and I have read that they don't like to be dug up and moved. Any advice would be appreciated.


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jgwoodard(USDA z7 TN)

Hi Rachel,
You're in the right place because some of us can help you overcome much of the false information that appears in magazines and nursery catalogs, etc.... The first thing to consider is that hellebores prefer a good bit of sun. The second is that they are not hard to move unless you are talking about a caulescent (stemmed) species. Virtually all of my plants get moved at least once or twice during the first few years.
Hellebores are a little more challenging to grow in pots than in the garden from my experience but can be grown in pots for long periods. Virtually every nursery and garden center grows in pots and plants can live in pots for years, particularly if you move them to larger pots as the roots grow (the root system of most hellebores is extensive). Again, the type of hellebore is important here. Some hellebores do better in pots than others, and some respond to transplanting better than others. Do you know what kind of plant you have?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2005 at 9:19PM
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Kerstin_Linnea(Z5, chicago)

jg, you care to elaborate?
I am not sure I understand what you mean with stemmed species.
I royal heritage stemmed?
How large should a quart sized plant move up to? Potwise....

    Bookmark   March 19, 2005 at 10:44AM
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Greenmanplants(UDSA Zone 8)

All your normal purchased plants are(hellebore hybridus) Acaulescent(stemless), the flowers and leaves come straight from the crown. Stemmed species(caulescent) are the H. foetidus, H. argutifolius types.
The fact is that the stemmed varieties are pretty quick to flower from seed but really resent disturbance once established. If you buy these as plants, buy as small as you can and plant them out in situ. H. argutifolius used to be called the Corsican Hellebore, (H. corsicus) and is a plant for full sun. The flower buds on the stemmed varieties develop on the previous years new stems and so are not particularly suitable for very cold environments where the foliage will be damaged in zone 4-6 conditions...(the foliage is still pretty good without the flowers).

Back to your question.
Hellebores in pots. Yes, the nurseries keep all their stock plants in large pots, that way it's easier to put a plant on the bench and do the hand pollination etc. We're talking big DEEP buckets here, I keep 2 year old plants in 8" deep pots moving up to 10" then 12" for 3 and 4 year olds. The depth is what they need, Hellebores grow their roots down not out.

However, why not plant them out, they'll be Ok lifted after flowering, provided you don't let the roots dry out, how soon are you moving, if this year then yes keep them in pots, but if longer, they will grow better in the open ground.

Other point noted, you say for your new shade garden, hellebores like sun part of the day at least. They are ideal under high deciduous cover, woodland edge where they get full light in winter/spring and light shade for the peak of the day in summer. In heavy shade they will be drawn and fail to flower well.

Cheers Greenmanplants

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 6:50AM
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Rachel_Lexington(7b SC)

Thanks for the responses. I don't know the exact name of the hellebore. The leaves come up individually from the crown. I assume the plants on the sale rack at the zoo were seedlings from the plants at the botanical garden. I had seen some of them blooming around the back of the bird house the day we were visiting the zoo, and had read about them here and in Southern Living. I thought the price ($5.00) was pretty good, and thought the evergreen nature of the plant would go well in my back yard, which has seven oak and two pine trees. There is some early-morning sun in summer along the fenceline where I intend to plant this hellebore, as well as some winter sun most of the day when the oak leaves are gone. Would I do better to put it in a deeper pot and set it on the ground in the same site, rather than planting it out?



    Bookmark   March 21, 2005 at 2:20PM
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I live in Arlington, TX, and I am trying to germinate some hellebore seeds. I have to follow all the impossible rules to trick their germination, but I will make it! Today it's February 13th 2009 and I sowed them on January 19th. They are in the fridge since February 4th, and I will only take them out on April 1st.

I also will have to grow them in pots because I live in a student apartment and I will probably move in a few months. But growing them in pots is not that bad though. You will be able to leave the plant exposed to the morning sun during winter, and when it comes to be June through November you can leave the plant in the shade.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 9:26AM
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