Country Living (UK)

GROWING HELLEBORES

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IN THE GARDEN

Hellebores prefer deep soil, high in humus, moist but not waterlogge­d; they also do very well in clay. Improve light soils with garden compost and leaf mould

They do best in a cool, semi-shaded position provided by a house or garden wall, or when shaded by shrubs and small trees

Hellebores survive on surprising­ly little feed, but given the chance they will benefit from a good feed. Apply pelleted plant food annually and mulch with leaf mould

Lorna removes all the old foliage around Christmas – the leaves can look tatty beyond a certain point and any black spot may be passed on to new foliage, but you can leave a few healthy leaves to frame the flowers

Mature hellebore plants have extensive leaf canopies that can obscure companion snowdrops, cyclamen and wood anemones – they will gain from the removal of some of this foliage at flowering time

Lorna does not recommend dividing hellebores – they are slow-growing and rarely get too big; it’s better to buy new plants or grow some from seed

IN POTS

Hellebores develop an extensive root system, and require a large pot to allow for growth and space for companion planting, eg ivys, grasses or spring bulbs

Plant in a gritty soil-based compost and mulch with gravel

Move pots into prime position close to the house when they are in flower

Do not neglect them once they have finished flowering. If you tuck them away, remember that they will need regular water and liquid feed through the summer if they are to continue to thrive

Stand potted hellebores in dappled shade when they’re not on display

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