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Potting up Hellebore seedlings

  • Potting up Hellebore seedlings
  • Potting up Hellebore seedlings

Hi All

Until now I have always weeded out Hellebore seedlings but have decided to have a go at bringing some of them on. Mainly too see just what they grow up into. Can I ask which potting medium or mix you use if transferring them into pots? When is the best time to do this and how to look after them until they are mature enough to bloom and hopefully be garden worthy plants. I should add that the seedlings from H. orientalis.

All tips and hints are much appreciated. I am absolutely pants at seeds, having only ever successfully managed to grow some Primula japonica from my own seed in the past.

Excuse the poor pictures, light is bad and taken from my phone.

Comments (8)

  1. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Angie (waves),

    It's very tempting to tease you and suggest they they will probably grow into Hellebores (laughs) but I wouldn't be that mean!

    You are really going to enjoy this next bit: it's dead easy! Pot them up into anything that you have handy: commercial cheap bagged compost, soil from the garden, half-and-half, pretty much anything.

    Yes, I would do it now, or as soon as you reasonably can, ie not when the soil is frozen. (Which is certainly isn't at the moment - it's like the Somme down here!) It doesn't matter if you don't get time to do them now, you can lift and pot them pretty much any time over the next few months.

    Lift them gently, as the roots can be a bit fragile, and you will often find that you have a small clump of seedlings, rather than just one: in which case you can choose to gently tease them apart, or you can pot up the whole clump.

    I generally put small seedlings like these into quite small pots - 3½" - as they grow quite slowly at first, and too big a pot can lead to sour compost. They'll take a couple of years to reach a decent size, and they benefit from being potted on each year, as they gradually outgrow the pot.

    They should flower in 2-3 years: a good strong seedling might only take 2 years. That might sound like a long time, but the seasons will just fly past.

    What you get will depend on what you have: if you have a biggish clump of the same colour, then your seedlings are likely to be similar to it. But if you have a lot of different Hellebores, or just the one solitary plant (ie so it's been pollinated from someone else's plants) then it could be something very different. Hellebore breeders (I know a couple) say that is part of the fun!

  2. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    Hi Rachel - a big wave right back at ya!
    Thanks for the info. Much appreciated and good to know I can do it at any time really. One last question if I may? Car the seedling able to be kept outdoors in pots or are they best in a coldframe until they mature?

  3. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Angie, you're most welcome!

    As the seedlings are already growing outdoors perfectly happily, they will be equally happy to be left outdoors in their little pots - they don't need to go in a coldframe. I would group them all together somewhere, so they form their own little microclimate, and to make it easy to check if they need watering.

    If you're worried about frost, you could try the plunging technique: this means, find an area of soil with nothing in it (highly unlikely for any GPS member), fluff up the soil, then put all the little pots in the soil and firm the soil around them, so that it comes nearly up to the rim. In effect, you are "planting" the plant pots. This technique has two main benefits: in winter, it protects the roots of the seedling from frost (because they are below ground level instead of standing high and dry) and in summer, it keeps the roots cool (as they are below ground level instead of standing high, dry, and in the sun).

    It's really most beneficial for plants whose roots are already pretty much at the edges of the pots - which won't be the case for your newly-potted seedlings - and it does have the further benefit of keeping the pots safely upright, which is handy for top-heavy plants, and for people whose cats tend to walk serenely through the potting area! But it has the major drawback that, if you forget about them, the plants will root down into the soil through the bases of the pots. Ask me how I know... yes, I've done it!

  4. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    Cheers Rachel. Got it all now!

  5. Grower

    Rob Johnson, Green & Furry pet and garden care

    May I add, the addition of a little sifted leaf mould to the compost is very beneficial to hellebores. Don't forget they are woodland plants and this gives them exactly the conditions they need at the roots. It is also important to remember they prefer alkaline conditions, so no coniferous leafmold, this will ensure the micarhizal balance is perfect, which is as imortant as fertillity. I have followed this formula along with a little protection and shade and have never had any trouble potting up these plants and growing them on, and my garden is full of them.

  6. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Rob (waves) thanks for adding those points: to anyone who does not have alkaline soil, I would reassure them that Hellebores are very tolerant of soil ph, and although they would prefer ph of 6.5 or 7 (according to Graham Rice, who is an acknowledged Hellebore expert: I have his book "The Gardener's Guide to Growing Hellebores" and it's excellent), a ph of 7 is only "a little bit alkaline", and they will flourish quite well in very ordinary soil.

    Oh, and that word is mycorrhiza if anyone wants to look it up: it describes the relationship between plant roots and beneficial fungi in the soil. There was a craze for selling packs of mycorrhiza to sprinkle in planting holes, but it has largely been debunked now: there are plenty of suitable fungi in the soil already, and it's debateable as to whether adding dried ones actually does any good or not!

    Apologies, Rob, for correcting your spelling again!

  7. Grower

    Rob Johnson, Green & Furry pet and garden care

    That's ik Rachel, the micorrhizal balance only works if the correct conditions are provided in th first place. Adding it to any growing medium is like adding fish to a pond without feeding them in the wrong conditions. Best to think nature, where do these thing grow best naturally?, well mine grow under shrubs where leafmold builds up, if you can observe and at least go a little way to replicate nature you can grow anything.(almost)

  8. Grower

    Rob Johnson, Green & Furry pet and garden care

    Just to add, my soil is exremely acid, the hellebores still grow very well

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