All About The Winter Jewels
Helleborus. The most exciting thing for me in the Spring is to see these beautiful plants blooming in the garden. These pop of color is very much needed after the long quiet winter months, where all I see is dirt and evergreens outside. There are so many beautiful varieties available nowadays in different colors, shapes and sizes. You can easily find them at grocery stores, hardware stores, garden centers, flower shops, and nurseries.
These beautiful perennials are quite easy to grow once established. I grow them on a slight slope as we can get quite a bit of rain in the Spring and Fall/winter months. They receive plenty of morning sun and afternoon shade from a nearby tree. When buds and foliage start to emerge in Spring, I remove all of last year's leaves on the plants. This is to remove any unwanted insects like aphids that may have overwintered under the leaves, and help provide air circulation around the plants to avoid fungal diseases. Hellebore are not too prone to pests other than aphids- my arch-nemesis. In our area, we have lots of wildlife like bears, deers, coyotes, racoons, etc. and they of course leave the plants alone. Occasionally slugs find their way to the blooms but only if the top heavy stems are touching the ground.
I find that blooms from white and green hellebore varieties are more sensitive to the rain, and prefer not to be rained on. Overhead watering is not recommended! We generally get a lot of rain during the blooming season so they receive plenty of water without the need to water them. In early Spring, I place clear plastic umbrellas over the plants, particularly the green and white ones. These are cheap umbrellas I bought from Daiso. (Japanese goods store) I simply remove the plastic handle before inserting it in the ground. This looks extremely silly to look at but honestly this DIY hack completely solved the issue of the blooms and stems rotting from the rain, and at the same time still receive the sunlight they need to thrive. I get at least double more blooms with the plants protected than not.
For fertilizing, I use my go-to products- Gaia Green organic fertilizer Power Bloom in early Spring before blooming and during the blooming season, and the all purpose balanced organic fertilizer (same brand) after blooms are done. If I have worm castings or compost tea around, I add them around the plants. When planting new plants in the garden, I plant them in the Spring as soon as I receive them, and mix in bone meal into the soil. I then mulch the area to prevent weed growth, and water regularly till established. (If there's rainy days ahead, I would let the rain do the watering.)
There are so many beautiful hybrids and varieties to explore in the world of helleborus. They have great shelf life as cut flowers and are great additions to floral designs. I personally love designing with them as is with only hellebore blooms or add in a few Spring blossom branches. I like to leave certain varieties in the garden alone to age before harvesting. As the blooms get older, the colors fade or changes tone. This is great if I want to have a certain color tone in my arrangements.
If you don't already have helleborus growing in your garden, do give it a try!