The herbaceous perennial plant Helleborus is directly related to the buttercup family. According to various data, this genus includes 14-22 species. Under natural conditions, such plants can be found in shady areas of European mountains (e.g., in the Mediterranean), as well as in Asia Minor.
Most of the species are found on the Balkan Peninsula. In Germany the traditional Christmas gift is the potted hellebore. There is a legend in which it is told that a little tangerine was very upset when he had nothing to present to the born Jesus as a gift, he began to cry, and where his tears fell, miraculous flowers grew, the boy gathered them and gave them to Christ. In European countries this plant is called Christ's rose, but in Russia it is called winterberry, the reason being that sometimes the hellebore starts blooming in January or November.
Special features of hellebore
Heights of hellebore can vary from 0.
2 to 0.5 meters. Thick short rhizome and weakly branched simple stem. The leathery root leaves have long petioles. They are stoop-shaped or palmately dissected.
Cup-shaped flowers have long pedicels and bloom at the very tip of the stem. They bloom from the end of winter to the last days of June. The sepals are often confused with the petals of the flower. In fact, the petals have transformed into nectaries. Flowers can be colored in different shades of white, light yellow, purple, pink, purple and ink, there are also bicolor varieties.
The flowers themselves come in both large and simple. Many gardeners love this plant for the fact that it blooms very early, and after all how nice it is when after a dull winter, beautiful flowers appear in the garden. But this is not its only virtue, it is also highly resistant to frost and drought. However, if you want to plant hellebores, you have to remember that they are poisonous like all buttercups.
Frostberry: The rose that is glad to have frost
Planting frostberry in the open field
What time to plant
Without replanting in the same place this flower can be cultivated for about 10 years.
When selecting a site for planting, it should be taken into account that hellebore reacts extremely negatively to transplanting. In this regard, the choice of a suitable place should be taken very seriously. To grow this flower, it is best to choose a loose, moist, neutral, clay soil, which should be well-drained. The site should be shaded and it is good if it will be between shrubs and trees. In order to achieve maximum decorativeness from such a flower, it is recommended to plant it in small groups.
The hellebore should be planted in April or September.
How to plant
The size of planting pits should be 30x30x30 centimeters, with a distance of about 0.3 meters between bushes. The hole should be ½ filled with compost. After that the rhizome of the hellebore is placed in the hole and gradually filled with soil, which is well compacted.
Planted flowers should be watered. The planted shrubs should be watered abundantly and often within 20 days of planting.
Maintenance for hellebore
Taking care of this flower is quite simple. Before the hellebore blooms in the springtime, all the old leaf plates should be cut off. This is to ensure that the plant is not infected with fungal stain.
Young leaves grow after the plant stops blooming. When the flowers have wilted, you should cover the soil around the plants with a layer of mulch (compost or decomposed peat). If the weather is hot, the hellebore should be watered systematically, and weeds should be removed and the ground loosened. Also, feed it twice a season with mineral fertiliser and bone meal.
Multiplication of hellebore
Often these flowers are cultivated from seed but they can also be propagated by vegetative methods.
Planting is done in the last days of June, just after the mature seeds have been harvested. For this purpose, humus, moist, loose soil is used, and the seeds should be buried by about one and a half centimeters. The first sprouts can be seen in March of the next year. The grown seedlings after the appearance of 1 or 2 pairs of leaf plates should be piked into the bed (it should be located in the shade). There frost will grow for 2 or 3 years.
Transplanting of hardened seedlings to a permanent place can be made in September or April, and the first flowering will be seen only after 3 years, after the plant has fully recovered from transplanting. Do note that hellebore stinkweed propagates well by self-sowing.
This plant can also be propagated by splitting. In the spring, when flowering is over, you should remove the 5-year-old shrubs from the ground. The rhizome should be carefully divided into several parts, then the cuts should be covered with crushed charcoal, and then the dividers should be planted in pre-prepared wells.
Black hellebore is propagated in spring in this way, but the autumn time should be preferred for dividing Eastern hellebore bushes.
Diseases and pests
Letters of hellebore can attract such gastropods as snails and slugs, and it can also be harmed by mice, aphids, and also by the caterpillars of hop thinwort. To kill mice, poison baits are used, which should be placed in places where these rodents have been seen. Slugs and snails are removed from bushes by hand and insecticides are used to kill insects, e.g.
caterpillars can be eliminated with Actellic, aphids with Biotlin or Antitlin.
Marrows are most often affected by anthracnose, false powdery mildew and ring spot disease. It must be remembered that aphids are carriers of spot disease, so measures to control such a pest must be taken in a timely manner. Infected parts of the bush are cut off and destroyed, and then the plant and the soil around it are treated with fungicide. If brownish-black spots with a barely visible ring pattern appear on the leaf plates, it means that the hellebore is infected with anthracnose.
Infected leaves should be cut off and burned, and the shrub should be treated with a treatment containing copper. If new leaf plates do not grow on the bush, and those that have already grown are deformed, with dark-colored spots on the front surface and a gray coating on the back surface, it means that it is affected by false powdery mildew. The infected parts of the plant should be cut out, and the bush and the surface of the plot should be sprayed with Copper Oxychloride or Pervikur.
It should be known that hellebore is quite resistant to diseases and harmful insects, and problems with it begin after violations of planting or care, for example, the plant was planted in excessively acidic soil. To find out the acidity of the soil, you can conduct the following test, for this you must take 1 small spoonful of soil, pour it on the glass, which should be on the surface of a dark color, then the soil is slightly moistened with table vinegar.
Then you must evaluate the result:
- a large amount of foam indicates that the soil is alkaline;
- a medium amount of foam means that the soil is neutral;
- no foam indicates that the soil is acidic.
In order to remedy acidic soil you should add wood ash, fluffing lime or dolomite flour.
Marrows after flowering
Seed maturation begins in June and may continue throughout the summer. Keep in mind that at one point the boll may burst unexpectedly and seeds will spill out onto the plot. To prevent this, several pieces of unripe bolls should be covered with gauze bags.
Then you will only have to wait for the ripe seeds to fall into the bag. Then they will have to be dried by placing them in a dry well ventilated room. After that, they are placed in a bag made of paper. But storing such seeds is not recommended as they lose their germination rate very quickly, so it is best to sow them immediately after harvesting.
It has already been mentioned above that this perennial is very frost-resistant.
That said, it can still freeze in very cold, snowy winters, especially for young specimens. Therefore, it is better to cover the hellebore with lapnuts from fallen leaves for the winter.
Types and varieties of hellebore with photos and names
There are several popular species and varieties of hellebore.
Helleborus niger (black)
This species is among the most beautiful and widespread. Under natural conditions, it can be found in mountain forests from Yugoslavia to southern Germany.
This evergreen perennial can reach a height of 0.3 m. Its large upward-facing flowers are up to 8 centimeters in diameter. The flowers are arranged on long peduncles that vary in height from 0.3 to 0.
6 m. The flowers are snow-white inside and pale pink outside. Flowering begins in the first days of April and lasts a little less than half a month. Leaf blades of this species are wintering, leathery, dense and with spectacular dark green color. It has a very high frost resistance (up to minus 35 degrees).
In culture this species since the Middle Ages. The most popular varieties are Nigristern and Nigercorns, and varieties:
- Potter's Will. This variety has the largest white flowers (about 12 centimeters in diameter).
- HGC Joshua. This hellebore is the earliest, beginning to bloom as early as November.
- Preecox. It blooms in November, the color of the flowers light pink.
Caucasian helleborus (Helleborus caucasicus)
In the wild, this species can be found throughout the Caucasus as well as in Turkey and Greece. The evergreen, tough leathery leaves with long petioles can be up to 15 centimeters long and are divided into 5-11 broad segments. The height of the flower stalks can vary from 0.
2 to 0.5 meters. They bear drooping flowers which may be green-yellow with a brownish tint or white with a greenish tint and up to 8 centimeters in diameter. Flowering begins in the last days of April and lasts for 6 weeks. This species is winter-hardy and has been cultivated since 1853.
It is said to be the most poisonous of all.
Bare leathery leaves with long petioles, green to dark purple. The peduncles are red-purple in color and reach a height of 0.3-0.4 meters.
The drooping, dark red flowers are about 8 centimeters in diameter and sometimes bear darker speckles. Flowering in this hardy species begins in April and lasts 6 weeks. It has a variety of garden forms.
Eastern helleborus (Helleborus orientalis)
In natural conditions can be found in Greece, Turkey and the mountains of the Caucasus. This evergreen perennial can reach 0.
3 m in height. The diameter of the purple flowers is 5 centimeters. The leaf plates of this species are often affected by fungus. There are many varieties, of which the following are the most popular:
- White Swan. The flowers are white in color.
- Rock and Roll. There are pinkish-red specks on the surface of the flowers of this species.
- Blue Anemone. The color of the flowers is pale purple.
- Lady Series.
The upright bushes are fast-growing, with flower stalks reaching 0.4 meters in height. Flowers come in 6 different colors.
Morosilk (Helleborus foetidus)
This species is native to the rocky slopes and light forests of Western Europe. The shoots are foliated and are 0.
2 to 0.3 m tall by fall. The overwintering leaf plates are divided into narrow dark green glossy segments. The flower stalks are about 0.8 m tall and bear dense inflorescences consisting of many small bell-shaped, green and brownish-red flowers.
This species has a very high drought tolerance. The most popular variety is Wester Flix: the leaf segments are even narrower than the main species, the branches of the inflorescences have a pale red tint.
Corsican helleborus (Helleborus argutifolius)
In natural conditions can be found in the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. This evergreen perennial can reach a height of about 0.75 m.
There are several upright shoots, growing very fast in width. The flowers are cup-shaped and green-yellow in color and are part of large, compound tassel-shaped inflorescences. Under natural conditions this plant begins flowering in February and in temperate climates around April. In mid-latitudes it needs shelter for the winter. The Grunspecht variety is the most popular: the color of the flowers is greenish-red.
Reddish helleborus (Helleborus purpurascens)
Native to Southeastern Europe, it prefers to grow on forest edges and in bushes in areas from Romania and Hungary to the western regions of Ukraine. The large root leaves have long petioles and are palmately dissected into 5-7 parts. Their front surface is bare, glossy green, while the underside is glaucous. The drooping florets are about 4 centimeters in diameter and have an unpleasant fragrance. They are colored a dusty purplish-purple on the outside and light green on the inside, becoming green after a while.
Flowering begins in April and lasts about 4 weeks. It has been cultivated since 1850.
Horticultural hybrids (Helleborus x hybridus)
Garden hybrids varieties between different species of hellebore are combined in this species. The flowers can be colored in different colors and have a diameter of 5-8 centimeters. К примеру:
The center part of the white flowers is fluffy, and there are also thin veins of pink and a fringe.
- Belinda. Terry white florets with a pinkish-green glow and a border around the edge of the petals.
- Queen of the ze Knight. The dark purple flowers have yellow stamens.
Besides these species such cultivars are also cultivated as: green, fragrant, bushy, multi-spotted, Tibetan, Sterna etc.
Properties of hellebore
In alternative medicine the healing properties of black hellebore and also of Caucasian hellebore are often used. These plants are able to normalize metabolic processes in the body, lower blood pressure and reduce the amount of sugar in the blood. And they also have diuretic, laxative and antibacterial effects. They help cleanse the gastrointestinal tract from polyps and parasites, and remove stones from the urinary and gallbladder.
Used to treat migraines, stomach ulcers, osteochondrosis, rheumatism, arthritis and sciatica. Contribute to the maintenance of the cardiovascular system. They purify the blood, strengthen the body's immune system. They are used for the prevention of cancer and colds, and also such plants are able to destroy tumor formations at an early stage. This is by no means a complete list of the medicinal virtues of hellebore, of which you may not have been aware for many years, growing it in your garden.
Medicines are prepared only from the root of this plant, but do not forget that it contains poison. The roots are harvested in September after the seeds are fully ripe. They should be washed using a brush with stiff bristles. Then they are cut into pieces and dried at 40 to 45 degrees in special dryers. Such raw materials can retain their properties for 2 years.
This root can be used to make an infusion or decoction, as well as a powder that has very powerful healing properties.
Also hellebore is widely used by those who want to get rid of excess weight. Slimming occurs due to the fact that the plant gently removes toxins from the body, removes excess fluid, contributes to the rapid breakdown of fat and accelerate fat metabolism. Kilograms will go without a strict diet and hunger strikes.
This herb has a very large number of contraindications and is not to be used:
- with liver disease;
- children under 14 years of age;
- People who have problems with the cardiovascular system (tachycardia, heart attack, etc.
- pregnancy and breastfeeding.
In an overdose, people may feel ringing in the ears, thirst, swollen tongue and throat and if the poisoning is severe, it often results in collapse or cardiac arrest. Among all plants, hellebore stands out because it has the greatest number of heart poisons. In some cases, people die after the first use of a remedy made from this plant.
Therefore, before starting to take such a preparation, be sure to consult a qualified specialist, who will be able to select the necessary dosage and regimen.
Morosilk (harm and benefit) / Phytopharmacy