Helleborus journeying

A short break from the deep freeze allowed me to unwrap and check the plant trays stored in the garage today. Anxiety was running high because I had noticed that a few species had started to germinate more than a week ago. Luckily, from under two sheets of fleece and plastic, the Helleborus seedlings showed their happy faces :)

While I had never thought of growing Helleborus from seeds until last year, this has proven to be a very fruitful and satisfying journey so far. The seeds have germinated promptly after being sown fresh during late summer; also the storage in moist vermiculite turned out to be a very good option for extending the fresh seeds offering period.

These Helleborus seedlings are descendants of mountaineer mother-plants:

Helleborus purpurascens

Helleborus purpurascens – a native of alpine meadows and forests in the Carpathian Mts. (Romania to Hungary)

The hybrid double Helleborus seedlings have ‘blood’ of Helleborus torquatus – a species confined to mountain regions of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Croatia, Hertegovina and Serbia – where natural double forms can be found). The most desirable forms have deep violet purple flowers (H. torquatus is one of the parents of the first dark flowered Helleborus hybrids).

Double flower Helleborus torquatus

Double Helleborus torquatus

Just starting to germinate is also Helleborus foetidus, a native of mountain regions from Central and S. Europe. In many cases, Helleborus seedlings will start to flower in the second year, which is another reason to happily continue the journey. Even if not all of them will be garden worthy, there are endless chances to obtain new forms with different flower colours or traits. It will be a long time until the melting snow will allow us to enjoy the Helleborus flowering on this frozen land; until then we can rejoice in growing seedlings!

And to keep them company under the lights there is another mountain plant, this time a peony – Paeonia mlokosewitschii (a native of the Caucasus Mts.)

Paeonia mlokosewitschii seedlings

Paeonia mlokosewitschii seedlings

6 replies
  1. mrsdaffodil
    mrsdaffodil says:

    Phew! What a relief to find your sprouts in good shape. I’ve always found that the hellebores self-seed quite readily. The Double Helleborus torquatus is gorgeous.

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Yeah, relief that’s the word. The problem for Helleborus is when the seeds get to dry out (like in storage), with the germination percentage getting low. I have a direct interest ;) in seeing how long can they be stored dry versus moist.

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