I fell in love with Hellebore a couple years ago but they are so expensive. I hate to spend $24 up and have them not grow.
There are a few reasons why hellebores tend to be more expensive than the average perennial :-)
First, if grown from seed, it takes several years of growing on before the plant achieves a marketable, blooming size. Second, many named forms of hellebores are propagated by tissue culture, which ensures an exact clonal replication of the parent plant. As seedling grown plants can differ widely from the parents (and some hybrids are sterile as well), named cultivars are virtually always propagated in this manner and it is an expensive and time consuming process. Finally, with the growing popularity of this plant, many named forms and newer hybrids are patented and this also adds to the production costs. Growers need to pay a licensing fee and royalties to the orginial hybridizer/patent holder.
It is quite possible to purchase hellebores at lower prices. You may only be able to obtain seed strains rather than named hybrids or cultivars but they will still produce great, garden-worthy plants. And look for them in smaller 4" or quart sizes. These may not be up to blooming size yet and therefore unable to confirm flower color, but they tend to be very affordable. And smaller sized plants 'take' and tend to establish faster in the garden than do larger, more mature plants.
It also helps to shop the various nurseries, big box stores and other outlets in your area for best prices. There are nurseries in this area that price named, unbloomed seedlings at $24, (recently repotted from 4" pots into a gallon container), but not far away from them, you can find named, blooming plants in gallons for $3. Blooming TC hybrids, in 5" pots, go for $2.
Some on-line vendors also have reasonable prices on many of the newest named cultivars. They are often available in both quart or gallon size and in my experience, have been healthy and true to name.
Be sure to check the rating of any on-line or catalog vendor at GardenWatchDog before ordering. You will have to google the website for GWD, as iVillage will not permit posting the URL here.
Helleborus are easily cultivated plants and are usually pest and disease resistant, including deer!
One way to surely kill the plants, is to locate them in poorly drained, soggy soil. They like moist, but well drained, humusy soil, in morning sun, dappled shade or a brightly lighted location. In a full, evergreen shady location, with low hanging branches, they will produce sparse blooms, if any at all.
Will tolerate a potted culture for a time, but the massive root system soon outgrows any reasonably sized pot.
Once established, they are an extremely hardy plant and resists highly variable climatic changes, including drought.
During 25Â± years of growing hundreds of Helleborus hybrids, species, seed strains, etc., and moving them around anytime during the year, I have lost less than 10 plants, 3 of which were definitely my fault, 4 others (each a different species) were old established, undisturbed plants and a cause could not be determined.