Saturday 20 August 2011

20.08. Hellebores in flower

A miracle has happened in my garden again! One of my Helleborus orientalis is flowering again! It might not sound like such a miracle to you, but firstly; hellebores are winter flowering plants and in the UK usually flowers from late December to March. Secondly, my unusual, summer flowering hellebore has already flowered this summer! It started producing flowers in mid July, and if you have a look at my post from 1st August you will see the flowers from the first stalk – and that’s what this plant usually produce; one stalk with 5-8 flowers…that is if it flowers in the summer at all, it doesn’t do that every year.

This year this particular hellebore produced one stalk in July, and then 5 weeks later came up with not one but two more flower stalks! As you can see from this photo, the stalk to the left has dark pink flowers with specks and the stalk to the right has much paler pink flowers – all from the same plant. I find these flowers really fascinating and the fact that they in the winter last for weeks before they fade is an important bonus. They don’t last that long during the summer; depending on the temperature they can fade within a good week or last for maybe 2-3 weeks, but they last for longer than most that flowers in my garden during mid-summer so not bad anyway :-) Click on the thumbnail photos below to get a larger version of these beautiful flowers.

Hellebores are often called Christmas or Lenten Rose, because they flower around Christmas. Hellebores are renowned for their tolerance of drought and neglect, although they truly thrive when grown in a moist, but well-drained soil. They are very sensitive to poor drainage, so be sure your soil drains well. Hellebores are primarily European natives, growing in open meadows in Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and even China, where the deciduous species Helleborus thibetanus can be found. While naturally a full sun plant, Hellebores make superb specimens for the light woodland garden. Hellebores are often found native in alkaline soils, but adapt without a blink to acid woodland soils. As for fertility, Hellebores need nothing more than a rich, highly organic soil, amended as needed, with an organic fertiliser. And for the lazy gardener, or for those like me who don't splash out on expensive products if it is not necessary; my Hellebores have never seen a drop of commercial fertilisers.

I have a few more or less unusual plants in my garden, but nothing really spectacular I guess, however, some of my plants are performing in a rather unusual way, with annuals surviving year after year, and the hellebore is not the only winter flowering plant that flowers in the summer; I also have a Viburnum which flowers early February and usually again in August. That actually has an explanation; as by August the Viburnum seldom gets enough water, it will start to drop its leaves and therefore think it is winter. And wintertime means flower time, and I get two flower periods per year instead of one. But I know that if the bush had got enough water during the summer, and not lost its leaves and subsequently started flowering – the flowers the following winter would have been more spectacular and possibly lasted longer. It can really stress the bush to keep on flowering twice a year, especially when it is supposed to put on growth and get lush during the summer, so it’s best to keep the plants hydrated. This explanation is not the reason behind my hellebore’s summer blush though, as that area is kept well hydrated and the other two hellebores I have never flowers in the summer, only this one to the right. I have no idea why this happens, have tried to Google it, but didn’t get any hits. Am I the only one with a hellebore that keeps flowering every winter and also most summers? :-)

I am going to finish tonight with a picture from my garden, showing how much everything has grown since last picture. Especially the Dregea on the arch in the middle of the picture has grown into monstrous proportions, so much so that I am afraid it is going to bring down the whole metal support. This is the second arch I have; the first one broke down from the weight of the Dregea and from becoming corroded down at the ground. This one was new a few years ago and it was a real pain to untwine all the lianas from the old arch and then twine them back onto the new one! This arch is bigger, sturdier and powder-coated so it is supposed to last for many years – that is if the plant doesn’t bring it down with its sheer weight…Some serious pruning is on the schedule for January next year, I have promised myself that this time I am pruning it down completely; the whole lot is coming down! Or maybe I will save ONE liana going up and across, but that will be it :-)

This is it for tonight too, more photos next time…. if we now could get a few days without rain in the afternoon…I don’t mind if it rains early in the morning – I am asleep then, but between 1 pm and 7 pm I would really like nice, warm, sunny weather for the next 6 weeks. Anyone listening?? See you soon!


  1. Hellebore in August!!!
    I just saw your comment at and had to come see for myself...

    Do you ever divide the babies?
    I need to put up a new post outlining that...
    I think that setting out the babies in a new seedbed when they're large enough to handle (3 or 4 years old), should easily determine whether you get summer-bloomers...
    Tell me where the line is to get seed...

  2. Hello Stone, sorry to disappoint you, but I have never had any seedlings from any of my hellebores, simply because where they were growing they all leaned over an edge onto the grass, the seeds would drop onto the grass and any seedlings coming up would get mowed. Yes I know, horrible.....I have redesigned my whole garden, no more grass, much bigger beds, and the hellebores are moved slightly further down. Hope they like the new place and don't sulk too much over being moved!

    But I have made a note to myself to collect some seeds this summer from my Hellebore, providing it flowers, it usually does, has done most years since 2005. Maybe I can start selling the seeds and get rich?! Hmmmm that’s a nice thought :-)

  3. You are making me sick...
    MOWED the hellebore?
    Hellebore seed are difficult to collect, difficult to grow from collected seed.
    Hellebore babies come up in large numbers around the parent plant, and are easily divided when they're about 3 or 4 years old, and they bloom soon (a year or 2) after being set out in a fresh bed.
    Seeds won't make you rich, but potted-up blooming sized-plants command very good prices.

    You might look into setting up a neighborhood plant sale, I've also seen plants sell very well at garage sales... The secret is to dig them and pot them a month or 2 in advance, where they have time to get acclimated to the containers.

    You might visit my winter 2011 post to observe helebore babies, and I outline hellebore maintenence (with pics) on the post I did last year... Just click my name on this comment.

  4. Well, I never set out to multiply my Hellebore collection, 3 plants were more than enough the way my garden was laid out before, so I wasn’t that worried about any seedlings possibly growing in the grass and being lost by cutting the grass to be honest! But now, after redesigning the whole garden, and moving the hellebores further down I will have space for a few more and the seeds will drop onto soil where they can grow undisturbed :-)

    Thanks for the link to your Blog, I will have a look.

  5. Helene I so love my helabores and they are now coming into bud.

    Its great you now have room for some more.

  6. I just found your blog via Google, as I too have just found a hellebore in flower in my garden in August. Very very strange! I hope yours are doing well.

    1. How interesting! This post is from 2011, I have written again about my summer flowering hellebore this year, as it is flowering again. You are not saying where you live, would be nice to know if you are in UK or somewhere else in the world :-)

    2. In Oxfordshire, UK. Last summer was exceptionally wet - don't know if this had an impact. Haven't seen hellebore in flower at this time before or since.

    3. One of mine has flowered every July/August for the last 7 years, as you know we have had very different summers the last few years so I doubt that make any difference, at least in my garden. I didn't get any seeds this year either, the flowers on the summer flowering hellebore just shrivel up and die, sadly, would have liked to try to grow some seeds form this particular hellebore :-)

    4. I am a gardener and this is the first time I have ever seen Hellebores in summer, but I have two plants in flower at the moment. They also flowered as usual in winter. Weider still is they are two of four from the same original crop, in one large tub and only two flower and the other two don't,

    5. Seems it might become more common with summer flowering hellebores! I just moved house and dug up most of mine and put them in pots. Despite being dug up and moved, my summer flowering hellebore has started to flower as usual, I will write about it on my post at the end of the month so keep an eye out for it on the 31st August.

    6. I brought a hellebore from aldi at Christmas and it started flowering again at the end of July. We live in the Staffordshire peak district. When people who are gardeners they ask me why its flowering and I don't no what to say

    7. Hello, as you can see from the rest of the comments - this is quite an old post, but it turns out having a summer flowering hellebore is not that unusual after all. Just treat it as the special gem it is, perhaps it will flower for you next summer too :-)

  7. I only have one hellebore (dont know the name, but has dark purple flowers) so far this year it has flowered 3 times. Once in spring, once in summer and again at christmas. Can anyone tell me why please.

    1. You have a summer flowering hellebore, just like me and a good few other people have. The spring flowering was at the right time, the summer flowering was not supposed to happen – but happens to some hellebores, and the reason why it flowers again already now in December is due to the very mild weather we have so the flowers meant for February to April is flowering already now. That’s how you can get flowers 3 times in the same year, just as I have had with some of mine.

      I have no good explanation to the fact that some hellebores bear flowers in the summer too, it just happens and after I started writing about it I have been told it happens to other people too so it isn’t that rare after all. Just treasure your summer flowering hellebore, it will probably give you flowers next summer too!

      A dark purple hellebore is most likely a Helleborus hybridus, you can Google it and see if the flowers and leaves look like yours. If you want more hellebores you should leave the flowers on it until the seeds have matured and fallen out of the seedpods, around July to September – that way you will get many more hellebores in time. It takes about 4-5 years, but worth the wait.
      Hope this was of help to you!


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