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Helleborus under pin oak

Posted by drsuz z5 IN (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 2, 06 at 17:45

Hi. We've had a mild winter thus far in Indianapolis. I have approx. 6 hellebores(Lenten Rose varieties; planted year before last) under the pin oak in the front yard. I also have some ferns, hostas, and bluebells there. Everything is fairly spread out; nothing is crowded. Despite making sure the hellebores are watered in the summer, they haven't made any attempt to spread or flower. They're just hanging in there. Any thoughts on what I could do to help them? I've looked through the postings to the forum and it seems that they tolerate some acid, so I don't think it's the tree -- but please let me know if I am wrong about that. Thanks!

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RE: Helleborus under pin oak

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 2, 06 at 23:20

I don't know pin oak, but I do find it mentioned in lists of trees unsuitable for underplanting with rhododendron and's on the list as an unsuitable associate, reasons for that grouping of trees are: too dense or fiberous rooted.

Have you dug around theplanting area under your tree to see what, if any, root competition there might be? Are the lower branches drooping in form so that they exclude too much light?

Sometimes these larger trees can really rob the soil of nutrients and water more than we you mulch with compost or organic plant remains?

I'm growing many oriental hybrids, foetidus, macrantha in my acidic clay. About once every 12 - 18 months, I push a stick of plain blackboard chalk down in next to each plant for a slow release of lime (three sticks for a large clump). Seems to work very well, and I don't have to be concerned about changing the PH of an entire planting area and making the acid lovers unhappy.

RE: Helleborus under pin oak

Hope you have them in a raised bed, because they require good drainage and bright light. They are also tolerant of drought conditions, once established. I grow them under many types of trees, including Oaks and they do extremely well there. They will grow, but not bloom well, under low growing evergreen trees or shrubs. Soil ph does not seem to matter much for the Lenten Roses, but the Christmas Rose, H. niger must have a more alkaline soil to survive.
Check the soil around your plants, if it stays constantly wet, you will need to raise them up so that the roots are in moist, but not soggy, soil. Also, hold off watering them frequently during the summer. Sometimes(like last Sept) some of mine go for a month or more without water and bloom on schedule in the winter.

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