Dividing hellebores

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Umbrian

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Dividing hellebores
« on: March 28, 2013, 07:42:30 AM »
I have several plants of Helleborus orientalis bought over the years when I have been lucky enough to find them offered locally to me. This year, one plant that has always flowered well is absolutely devoid of blooms although there is an abundance of new, very healthy looking new leaves. Should I leave it and see what happens next year or would it be a good idea to split the plant at this point?  Other plants have flowered well, better than ever in some cases as with the long stemmed pink one in the 'photo and so I cannot think it is weather conditions that has cuased the problem.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 09:39:40 AM by Alisdair »
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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Alisdair

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Re: dividing Helleborus orientalis
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2013, 08:35:48 AM »
I'd be inclined not to divide it, at least not now. What may have happened is that the main core of the plant has had some sort of set-back, and the healthy leaves you are seeing now are from the outer growth points. If it has had a set-back that has stopped it flowering, the main plant needs the energy it's now getting from these, to recover; if by dividing it now you remove some of those vigorous bits, you risk starving it of that restorative energy.
If all seems well, and if you really want to divide it, the best time would be at the start of next autumn's new growing season, when its new roots will be at their most vigorous.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 09:40:18 AM by Alisdair »
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

Trevor Australis

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Re: dividing Helleborus orientalis
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2013, 09:18:25 AM »
I agree with Alisdair; don't divide it now. Hellebores are notoriously slow to re-establish. Give the plant a good feed, a mulch of animal manure  and water it from time to time. I think it will come good next year.  
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 09:40:35 AM by Alisdair »
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Joanna Savage

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Re: dividing Helleborus argutifolius
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2013, 05:15:17 PM »
Alisdair and Trevor, I think you have anticipated my question about H.argutifolius? This plant was bought at an Italian nursery unnamed. It is really shrub size. Two terraces above where it grows a neighbour's dog is confined. It's yard is hosed down every day so the water and added nutrients may account for the robust size.
Mid summer 2012, the council covered the narrow dirt track which runs immediately above the plant with 10cms of gravel. Apart from being precipitous to walk down the slope, all this winter's rain has washed most of the gravel into my garden. The Hellebore and other plants such as rue and cistus became very yellow. I wondered how to try to save it as it is a handsome architectural specimen. So I was glad to see a couple of stems flowering, the snow and heavy rain had finished off most of the weak stems. Now there has appeared new growth at the base of the plant, and judging by your remarks I should just let it recover and perhaps divide after a year or two? With luck some seed will set.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 09:41:10 AM by Alisdair »

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Alisdair

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Re: dividing Helleborus argutifolius
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2013, 07:59:32 PM »
I'd be wary of dividing H. argutifolius at all! I'm sure Trevor's much more skilled than I at dividing perennials, so if you're absolutely determined he may have some tips....
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 09:41:30 AM by Alisdair »
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

Trevor Australis

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Re: dividing Helleborus argutifolius
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2013, 12:59:15 AM »
Whatever you do don't try to divide Helleborus argutifolius. It is one of the caulescent hellebores and they absolutely hate being cut up. Best thing to do would be to harvest the seeds which are usually prolific and sow them in pots, prick out individually and plant out at 1 yr old. Or you could try letting the seeds self-sow. They will be happy amid the washed down gravel if it is not too cold in the first winter after germination. I find they come up everywhere but we don't really get snow. tn
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 09:42:03 AM by Alisdair »
M Land. Arch., B. Sp. Ed. Teacher, traveller and usually climate compatible.

Umbrian

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Re: dividing Hellebores
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2013, 07:57:51 AM »
Many thanks for all the useful information, I think I will leave the said plant in situ and, as Trevor suggested, pamper it a bit this year in the hopes that it will perform next year. It may well need a good feed as it is in a small cut out area close to the house where I can enjoy it in the late winter when not much else is about. It is so easy to forget such jobs (feeding) when things are  doing well.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 09:42:47 AM by Alisdair »
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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JTh

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Re: Dividing hellebores
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2013, 10:11:41 AM »
Re Trevor's comment about snow: I grow H. argutifolius in Norway, it has survived here for several years, and even temperatures down to - 26 0 C  didn't kill it. Last year it was somewhat reduced, but I hope it will be back this year (it's still too early to say, we still have snow here).
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 04:33:20 PM by Fleur Pavlidis »
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Joanna Savage

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Re: Dividing hellebores
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 08:13:21 AM »
Many thanks to Alisdair and Trevor for advice and to MGS Forum for making such advice accessible.