Transplant Helleborus - Knowledgebase Question

Philadelphia, PA
Avatar for melissa37
Question by melissa37
November 9, 1998
A neighbor gave me a section of his helleborus plant this week. I don't know anything about planting it. I have a spot under a big old cherry tree picked out for it. How deep do I plant it? How tall will it get? (It still has green leaves on it which are about 12 inches tall). Can I plant it this weekend, or is it too late? What should I mulch it with?

Answer from NGA
November 9, 1998
Hellebores are a group of lovely, long lived plants which bloom in early spring. Depending on the type you have, it may be evergreen or it may not. Since you have a division from an established plant, I would guess yours will stay at about the same height, although some varieties grow to about twice that. Hellebores prefer part shade with morning sun or dappled light all day. In my experience, the drier the soil the more shade they need.

The hellebores require a rich, neutral to alkaline soil amended with copious amounts of organic matter. The soil should stay moist yet be well drained, meaning not soggy. (This is important because your cherry tree may create somewhat drier soil conditions than these plants generally seem to prefer.)

A mulch is also important because it will help to conserve moisture. Nearly any organic mulch such as bark, shredded leaves or compost will do. The mulch will also deteriorate over time and add organic matter to the soil.

November is a bit late in the season to divide these plants, although it is usually suggested to do it in the fall. Plant it right away so it has a chance to root before the ground freezes. Handle it gently to avoid breaking off the roots, and replant it at the same depth as it grew before. Water it in well and put several inches of mulch around it. Make sure the soil stays moist (use your finger to check) until it freezes hard. Finally, since it has very little time to anchor itself, checkduring cold weather to make sure it doesn't frost heave up out of the soil this winter. If it does, simply push it back in again as best you can.

Good luck with your new plant!

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