Helleborus - winter protection or not?

Discussion in 'Annuals, Biennials, Perennials, Ferns and Bulbs' started by smivies, Dec 21, 2006.

  1. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    For the first time ever in my Ontario garden, the Christmas Rose (H. niger) is actually flowering at Christmas (not the usual April). While I realise this is not an unexpected response given the fall we've had, I don't think even the toughest Hellebore flowers can take our winters. Should I be throwing a styrofoam rosehat over it or leave it be?
    Christmas Rose 003.jpg

    My H. purpurascens is also showing buds & could be protected if needed. Unfortunately, it's not practical to protect the H. foetidus but their flower buds seem to make it through the winters.

    Looks like my Snowdrops are going to give a January show at this rate!
    Christmas Rose 004.jpg
     
  2. NiftyNiall

    NiftyNiall Active Member 10 Years

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    The Hellebores, are tough as nails. Mine are already flowering through the snow I piled on top of them. We also have a large collection at Riverview Hospital, that have no protection at all, and always do fine. Not sure of what is the lowest temperatures that they tolerate, but it must be quite low. Always handle the plants with gloves, the bulbs,corms will blister the skin. Merry Christmas!
     
  3. hortfreak

    hortfreak Active Member Maple Society

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    You shouldn't have any problems with your hellebores. I have lost some flowers (damaged would be more precise than lost), but buds will come through nicely. I always cut H. niger flowers for the Christmas table if they are open (rarely). I would worry more if they weren't showing buds poking through the ground at this time, although once in a great while they are a bit slow. Nature has a way of taking care of things that get ahead of themselves---like the tulips and daffodils that start shooting up early. Enjoy.
     
  4. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    To hortfreak.....

    I'm curious on what you've got growing in the County? My primary interest is in trees & shrubs but with a small city lot, I've had to concentrate on bulbs and perennials, many from Gardens North & Thimble Farms. The tree & shrub passion has to be statisfied with trips to Ontario arboretums. Always experimenting with stuff, the unusual, the borderline hardy, and usually the species, rarely the hybrids.

    If interested, send me an email.

    Simon
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Don't like hot conditions, despite the genus name. They would only pop up at an inappropriate time if caught by surprise in a climate or season that was more variable than what they are used to. That may be your concern, of course.
     
  6. hortfreak

    hortfreak Active Member Maple Society

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    Simon - I will answer you in a few days when I have more time. You would be surprised at what you can grow in a very small space. Yes, I would be interested in a discussion on what I am growing here in "The County".

    Hellebores, being early bloomers even in Ontario, will almost always show bud tips popping up through the ground (where they sit in suspended animation) by the end of December. I can only remember maybe once in the last 10-15 years that this did not happen. This was the case with both H. x hybridus and H. niger. They did not flower until the end of April or early May that year, both at the same time. Mine at the moment are showing about an inch above ground.
     

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