Hellebores: Divide and Multiply

By Carmine Carosella, Fairfax Master Gardener
You’ve seen all those fancy hellebores at the garden shops, and they set your heart aflutter. Their fancy prices, however, rip your budget apart. What’s a gardener to do? Well, one easy and inexpensive way to increase your collection is to divide an existing plant.

hellebore

This hellebore was divided in the fall, and it was blooming the following spring

Most of the hellebores in the marketplace are hybrid plants grown from tissue culture or seed. Seed production of hellebores is done by hand-pollinating crosses from two different parents; the plant that results from the cross breeding is called an F1 hybrid. Most hellebores do readily seed in the garden by open pollination, but usually these offspring are very much inferior to their F1 parents. Some traits — for example, variegated leaves — never transfer to the seedlings. Furthermore, seeded hellebores demand patience, requiring 3 to 4 years before bloom. A better way to ensure replicas of the original plant and to enjoy flowers fast is to divide hellebores. A hellebore divided in autumn will produce a beautiful plant early the following spring.