The Q&A Archives: How to start Helleborus from seeds.

Question: I recieved Christmas Rose seeds in a seed trade and now am puzzled on how and when to start them. One source says "spring". Another says "fall". Some say direct sow, others in glass covered pots. I'm thinking it's
more like "late summer", in pots so I can find them again. Any ideas? This question stumped my local cooperative extention agent!!

Answer: Getting Helleborus seed to germinate can be a real challenge, and it's not done very often, so don't be too hard on your local extension agent! Sometimes the seed needs to be exposed to cold weather over two seasons before they will germinate, so plan to exercise some patience while waiting for those first sprouts. Sow the seeds October-February, in moist potting soil. Place the pots of seeds in a shady area outdoors, buried to within an inch of the rim of the pots, or in a cold frame on the north side of a building. Leave them outdoors during the winter months and then bring them into a greenhouse or indoors and place them in a bright, but not sunny windowsill. This should trigger germination. If they don't sprout in the late spring, keep the pots in a cool place during the summer and keep the potting soil moist. The seeds should germinate then. If not, repeat the process until the seeds sprout. (They can take from 30 to 545 days to germinate!) When the seedlings finally appear, transplant them immediately into their permanent homes in the garden. Good luck with your project!

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