Helleborus viridis is a very demure plant, very early flowering with bunches of open, saucer-like flowers, of a startling bright green. Cup-shaped, light green sepals surround the delicate flowers. The leaves are deeply divided, forming dark green fingers with serrated edges.
This low growing, clump forming perennial will revel in light shade and will happily grow under small deciduous trees. A well-drained soil, leaf- or humus-enriched soil is all that they need.
In the garden the Green Flowered Hellebore needs complimentary neighbours. The pale form of our native primrose would be ideal as would a sympathetic snowdrop.
Both the flowerheads and the leaves of green hellebore are much prized by flower arrangers as the flowers are very long-lived. Massed on strong stems in early spring, they are available before most other plants have begun to develop.
Sowing: Sow seeds immediately upon receipt, at any time of year.
Hellebore seeds are collected in early summer. If they are planted in the first few months, they will germinate quickly in around 30 days. Once the weather starts to get cold in autumn, they will go dormant and delay germination until the weather warms up in the spring and conditions are more favourable.
Text books quote germination as ‘irregular’ and advise 30 to 545 days, in my experience 30 to 180 days is usual, dependent on the time of year that they are planted.
Sow in moist John Innes seed compost or something similar, place each container in a polythene bag or place a plastic lid onto the container. Place in a cold greenhouse or cold frame. The compost should be kept moist but not wet at all times.
Some of the seeds will germinate straight away, some during the spring and summer, any remaining seeds may lay dormant until the following spring. If any seeds do not germinate in the spring keep them in cool moist conditions throughout the summer.
As each seed germinates transplant it almost immediately into its own 7.5cm (3in) pot to grow on. These strong plants need more nutrients and water than small cells can provide. Keep seedlings in a well lit place, but out of direct sun.
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out, space 30cm (12in) apart.
Seeds can be left to go through the seasons naturally or germination hastened by “Stratifying” (imitating the seasons)
Soak and sow seeds as above and leave for six weeks. Transplant any seedlings that have germinated. After 6 weeks chill the remaining seeds: put the tray into the refrigerator at -4°C to +4°C (24-39°F), or somewhere with a similar temperature for six to eight weeks. Then remove to around 10°C (50°F)
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out, space 30cm (12in) apart.
If your soil is high in organic matter, and has a fairly good water holding capacity, then Hellebores will grow wonderfully in your garden. Hellebores have a deep growing root system and they will benefit greatly if the area is prepared before planting. Double digging the area (digging out one shovel depth of soil, and then digging up the second layer of soil, and then putting the top layer back on and digging it all together) with additional organic matter is of great advantage. Add some sharp sand if your soil is especially heavy and sticky.
Hellebores prefer a neutral to alkaline soil Ph (they will grow in a slightly acidic Ph soil too). Mushroom compost or well decomposed garden compost is good as an additive.
Hellebores are Mediterranean plants, and they prefer moist but well drained soil, a period of drying our between watering is of great benefit to good overall growth.
Cut down flowers as they are over to encourage basal growth or leave to set seed. Once the plant has flowered and new foliage shows signs of emerging, you can cut away the old leaves.
Hellebores will set seed with new plants coming up around the main plant. Seedlings are easy to transplant to other parts of the garden.
Plants resent root disturbance and are slow to re-establish when divided and are best left undisturbed for 6 to 7 years before being divided. Should you ever have to move a plant, dig a ball of earth around its roots as you would for a shrub.
Do not use chemical fertilisers as it is extremely sensitive to them and burns easily. Stick to dressing with compost or aged manure in the autumn.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds or Under-planting roses and shrubs.
As a cut flower, these flowers float on water and will stay fresh for many days. Take care when handling the plant as it may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.
Helleborus viridis is unusual culturally and geographically because it is native to the moist deciduous woods and meadows and clay soil of western Europe and the U.K. Found in damp, lime-rich woods or shady hedgebanks and scattered on chalk and limestone soils throughout much of Britain, but largely absent from Scotland. it is also widely naturalised as a garden escape.
It is the form found in S.E. France, Switzerland, N. Italy, S Germany and Austria. In Piemonte, just across the border into Italy from S.E. France, it grows, like so many green flowered species, on the edge of woodland and in nearby sloping meadows.
The name Hellebore is taken from the Greek helleboros.
The species name vir'idis is Latin for green
Helleborus are member of the genus Ranunculaceae, the Buttercup family.
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 20 Seeds Family Ranunculaceae Genus Helleborus Species viridis Common Name The Green Hellebore Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Open, saucer-like flowers, of a startling bright green Natural Flower Time Mid Winter to Late Spring Foliage Dark green, deeply divided with serrated edges Height 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) Spread 22 to 30cm (9-12in) Spacing Space 30cm (12in) apart. Position Partial shade Soil Prefers rich, moist but well drained soil Time to Sow Sow seeds immediately upon receipt, at any time of year. Notes Please take care when handling the plant
as the sap may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.