I bought the H. niger in bloom last year so I am unsure if it should have flowered by now in my zone. The flower spikes with buds are still only at the soil surface. Is this normal?
My H. niger has been doing the same thing. It seems like it's been in bud a while, with no movement. This is also my first season after winter too. I don't have any experience with these, thanks for the post, I was wondering the same thing.
They hold their buds at ground level to protect them from the weather as they are normally one of the first to come through the winter. My guess would be that a temperature change will trigger the blooming spikes into growth, my Nigers are all but over with seed almost at the point for collection. I'm at the same latitude as you so should have the same amount of light etc, but we had a very mild January while I guess you guys were in the -15C or so.
Wait a while, you should see growth when you get consistent 7C or so.
Today my first hellebore Niger flower openned, I thought they were gone, but I have one plant left and it flowered. The bud has been there for a very long time, but it finally openned.
Now that it openned, how long does it last?
Mine is producing new leaves and one bud has opened but it's still at ground level. It isn't impressing me.
The first year or two, my Helebore was like this. Now it is a real bush and it bloomed profusely in March and April. Here it is on April 3.
Here is a link that might be useful: Third or fourth year helebore