Growing hellebores from seed

by Adam Pasco

How generous of my oriental hellebores to not only flower so profusely for the past months, but to now reward me with such a bumper supply of swelling seed-pods.

Hellebore seed-podHow generous of my oriental hellebores to not only flower so profusely for the past months, but to now reward me with such a bumper supply of swelling seed-pods. Each one of these hellebore heads will be packed with shiny black seeds just waiting to be scattered onto the surrounding soil when the pods eventually ripen and split.

There isn't much bare soil around my hellebores, but somehow a rash of seedlings always develops. I can then delve in with a trowel and transplant them to fill gaps around the garden. It's a bit 'pot luck', but then that's the fun of gardening. If I really wanted to maximise my returns I could collect seed by hand, picking off the pods at the moment they split, but before they've dropped their cargo. Kept on a sheet of newspaper in a warm, dry place they'll continue ripening, and I'll be able to shake out the seeds.

The best germination comes from sowing right away, and not saving for another day. Just sprinkle seeds onto the surface of compost in a large pot and cover with grit. Germination should be quite quick, probably within the month. These seedlings probably won't flower next year, but should do the following year if they grow strongly. The anticipation of waiting for flowers to open is immense.

You never quite know what they're going to be like. This 'natural' hybridisation may produce progeny of the same flower colour and form as the parent, or something completely new. Then the fun really starts, as you can name them what you like. Helleborus 'Adam's Perfection' anyone?

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Gardeners' World Web User 02/05/2008 at 11:17

I noticed lots of very tiny, thin, silvery worms in the compost of my hellebore and also some brown grubs about the size of a large maggot. Does anyone know what they are? I picked out as many as I could and put on the bird table but there must be a lot more in the container.

Gardeners' World Web User 07/05/2008 at 15:33

Not sure what the silvery worms could be, but if the grubs had brown heads and creamy bodies they may well have been vine weevil grubs. Yes, destroy any you find, as they'll be eating away at plant roots, but be careful not to mistake them for stag beetle larvae, which are endangered. Bad infestations of vine weevil can also be controlled using both biological and chemical methods.

Gardeners' World Web User 30/07/2008 at 22:59

I am having a problem with the leaves of my helloebores during the summer months. They are being completely shredded and look like fishbones. I don't think it is slugs, does anyone have any other ideas. Do beetles like to eat them as I did spot a bright one a few weeks ago but I keep looking and can't find anymore but the plants are looking terrible.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/07/2009 at 09:46

We have several hellebore plants which are wonderful but have become absolutely huge and are now far too big for the space they are in? Can we split the plants to get several smaller ones? If so, when would be the best time of year to do this?

Gardeners' World Web User 05/01/2010 at 14:33

you have a picture of a chafer grub claiming to be vine weevil grub,correct

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