Helleborus Seeds


I have seeds that I tried to sprout recently but have not germinated. Can I just plant the seeds into a pot to winter and then hopefully sprout in the spring? Planting them directly in the soil would be fine as well except that the seeds are black and would be hard to see in the spring. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Before I get to answer your question, I’d just like to point out that seed collected from hybrid hellebores may not produce “true” plants.  That means your new plants may have different characteristics than the mother plant, rather than being a clone. Also, some hybrid seed may actually be sterile and never germinate and reproduce.  If you have purchased the seed from a reliable source then this may not be an issue.

Below you will find a few tips that should help you to get your hellebore seeds started.

  1. The ideal time to plant this seed is either June/July which is when hellebore seed usually falls to the ground naturally.  Or the other option, is to plant it in the fall after you have done your garden cleanup at summer’s end.  Regardless of which option you take, mark out the location of your nursery bed so that you will know where it is and it won’t get disturbed.
  2. Work nursery area soil to 12-18 inches deep, adding compost or well rotted manure, breaking soil into smaller clumps.  This will add nutrients, help with soil drainage and encourage young root penetration.
  3. Sow fresh seed as most Hellebore seed doesn’t remain viable for long.  There are a few varieties that have a longer viability rate with some taking several months or years to germinate.
  4. Plant shallowly – moisten soil, sprinkle seed, very lightly cover with soil, sand or gravel and then water lightly.
  5. Maintain a fairly constant soil moisture level – not too wet and never let the nursery dry out.
  6. Once germination has taken place and the seedlings have got their first true leaves (set of three), thin them out for an 18 inch spacing.  This helps with airflow and prevention of disease.
  7. Mulch around the plants to help with weed suppression and soil moisture retention but make sure you keep the mulch away from the tender plant stems.

This is a great way of spreading some winter blooming plants around your garden.  Good luck.

September 28, 2021