Growing a hellebore in a pot makes it possible for those of us who don’t have a garden to still witness the exceptional winter blooming of this herbaceous flower.
Indeed, hellebore has one interesting advantage that makes it ideally suited for this purpose: it is very easy to grow all year long in a large container. However, there are a few rules to follow to make sure they last for years.
Succeed in growing hellebore in a pot
Hellebore varieties well-suited to container growing
- Helleborus niger, also called Christmas rose, is appreciated by many already: it bears large white flowers;
- Helleborus orientalis, also named Lenten rose, has flower colors that depend on the variety and on the specific cultivar: yellow, pink, violet, etc.;
- and then you’ve got the many hybrids of both species, which allows for choosing from a wide range of colors.
How to choose the right pot for a hellebore
Choosing the pot, for this plant, is the most crucial aspect. Indeed, hellebore hates being moved around from one pot to the next. This is due to their complex and deep-running rhizome root system. Roots usually inch their way straight down, and in the ground they easily make it to 2 feet deep (60cm). They reach to that depth to find cool soil, which is what the plant needs to survive. As a conclusion, best is to go for a pot that’s 2 feet deep (60cm) at least. For the width of the pot, select one that’ 3 to 4 times wider across than the nursery pot you bought them in (assuming you bought yours in a garden store).
Choosing the right substrate to grow potted hellebore
In pots, as is the case in the ground, hellebore requires rich, cool and well-drained soil. This plant also likes soil that tends to be acidic. Select a mix of garden soil and soil mix upon planting. Adding fertilizer will be necessary on a regular basis, since nutrients tend to wash out faster when the substrate is in pots.
Choosing the right place and exposure for the pot
Note that hellebore, even when growing in a garden box, thrive most when they grow outdoors.
- Most varieties will do very well in part sun to part shade exposure.
- Hellebore is very hardy: it can resist temperatures down to 5°F (-15°C), and survives under snow, too. You won’t need to bring your pots indoors, but can leave them out on the balcony all year round if need be.
- Nonetheless, it’s always better to go for places sheltered from wind (near a wall, in a covered patio or deck, etc).
Caring for potted hellebore
We’ve shared earlier that hellebore hates being transplanted. Best avoid transferring the plant from one pot to another once it has already spread its roots out. Water regularly to ensure that the root clump stays cool all the time. And even though you should avoid having the substrate dry out, also make sure to not drown your plant in water every time you water. Lastly, the substrate needs to stay rich. Add organic matter every spring. Following these rules will give your potted hellebore the best possible environment, and your plant will thrive without any problems for at least four years. When the plant turns 4 years old, divide it:
- do this in September, without removing the plant from its pot. Simply cut the plant in half, and tease one half out while leaving the other half in place.
- Place the portion you extracted in a new pot with fresh soil mix and garden soil.
- Add soil mix to backfill the hole in the pot with the half-hellebore that was left behind.
This way, you’ll replenish nutrients in the substrate. Though hellebore should cope quite well with such a division, it’s best to water once a week for a month to make sure roots recover and start spreading again.
Even though it’s very hardy, you’ll do good to protect your potted hellebore from cold winds and from frost if it lasts a long time.
To learn more, read:
- White hellebore: a magnificent perennial with white flowers
- Which winter flowers to plant in my garden boxes?
- Hellebore, flowers for the cold
- Christmas rose, a treasure at the heart of winter
Potted hellebore on social media
Click to open posts in a new tab. Follow us there, comment, and share!
Also nice: create or join a topic on our gardening forum, too.
Four potted hellebore by Flower Council Holland / the joy of plants
Pot with daffodils and Christmas rose by Amanda Slater under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Spring potting arrangements by Mark Wordy under © CC BY 2.0
Buried hellebore by Ruth under © CC BY 2.0
Single hellebore (also on social media) by Roscoe Myrick under Public Domain