Napa County Master Gardeners: Hellebores in your garden | Home and Garden

If you are an adventurous person, you might want to try planting hellebores from seed. You can find seed sources online. You will have a surprise when they bloom and you discover the bloom color. Seedlings do not bloom until the second year so you will need to be patient.

In winter and spring, when your hellebores start to bloom, feed them with a natural fertilizer such as aged chicken manure or worm compost. The latter has all the necessary trace elements in a mild form. The plants go dormant in summer, but you should continue to water them.

If you like the bloom color of one of your hellebores, you can reproduce the plant by division. Wait until it has finished blooming, then dig around the root ball and lift it out. Hellebores have fibrous roots that are easily divided. Take a rooted piece or two and replant where you want them, then return the rest of the clump to the original hole.

Another method for reproducing hellebores is called micropropagation. I doubt any of us will want to try it. It involves placing a piece of the plant in a sterile test tube and treating it with hormones to stimulate growth. When the plant is big enough, it is transferred to a pot.

I saw this method used on cymbidium orchids years ago at an orchid grower in San Francisco. It is also called meristem propagation. I enjoy propagation but I don’t think I am ready to attempt this method quite yet.