Can helleborus handle high moisture?

ccoombs1(7B SC)May 21, 2007

I am planting a large shade garden finally, after collecting shade plants for many years. I plan to use lots of hostas with helleborus and ferns scattered throughout (among other things). I want to water this garden nearly every day to get the max growth possible for the hostas. can hellebores handle this much water or will they be unhappy? I don't want to kill them....I can always create a hellebores garden just for them if it would be better. thanks!

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You will get the best growth response from both the hostas and the hellebores (as well as from most other plants you intend to include) from careful soil preparation. Hostas do not need excessive amounts of water to become big and lush - they are actually rather drought tolerant once established - but they do appreciate a rich, well draining organic soil. Over watering can lead to crown and root rots and a problem referred to as edema or blistering of the foliage. A deep watering once a week, or at the most twice if very hot and dry, should suffice.

A good many shade plants are genetically programmed to be relatively drought tolerant. If you think about it, the natural woodland understory is generally quite sheltered from excessive rainfall by the tree canopy or taller growing plants and those large trees produce wide spreading root systems that are very efficient in hogging soil moisture and nutrients. Smaller plants have learned to adapt to leaner conditions in order to survive. The exceptions are those woodland plants or shade lovers that grow along waterways or streams, of which neither condition is home to either hostas or hellebores.

And you should be aware that hellebores are not exactly shade lovers, but more shade tolerant - there is a big difference. In their native environments, hellebores grow in open meadows and in the verges or edges of woodlands, areas that receive a fair amount of sunlight. They will become quite leggy and not bloom as well in very heavy shade.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 8:15AM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

Thanks for your reply. the bed is filled with well rotted compost from a horse farm. It's a mix of wood shavings and horse manuer. It is not hot anymore, but is not completly composted either. I planted hostas in it last year and they did great. It does drain very well. This bed is under trees, but does get filtered sunlight off and on all day, and even a bit of direct sunlight for brief periods. The temps here in SC get terribly hot during the day and hostas never grow as well here as they do in the northern states. So it sounds like hellebours like about the same conditions that hostas like. that works out well. I'll just watch and see how they do with less-frequent watering. I can always increase it if the plants don't seem to happy.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 1:05PM
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