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Helleborus x nigercors

Helleborus x nigercors

Helleborus x nigercors has a long season of colour - see it planted in large bold drifts in the Robinson Garden at Hyde Hall where it enjoys the part shady conditions and moisture retentive soil. It also blends in well with other hellebores in the Robinson Garden, as well as early spring bulbs such as snowdrops and winter aconites.

Vital statistics

Common name
Hellebore, Christmas rose
Family
Ranunculaceae
Height & spread
Up to 30cm (12in) by 45cm (18in)
Form
Herbaceous perennial
Soil
Neutral to alkaline soil
Aspect
Dappled shade
Hardiness
Hardy throughout the British Isles

Helleborus

Helleborus is a small genus containing 15 species of herbaceous perennials found mainly in scrub and woodland on chalk or limestone soils. Most species are European, though hellebores can be found as far afield as western Asia.

Helleborus foetidus and H. viridis are both British natives occurring on the chalk-hills of southern England in woods and scrub, often forming quite large colonies. The true wild hellebore species are rarely grown in gardens as hellebores hybridise very easily and the hybrids are much better garden plants with improved form, flowering and flower colour.

Most of the hellebores grown in gardens are hybrids involving Helleborus orientalis, crossed with H. cyclophyllus and H. odorus to give yellow flowers, H. multifidus subsp. bocconei to give green flowers and with H. torquatus to produce deep purple colours.

Other hellebores have also been used to create garden hybrids including Helleborus argutifolius and H. lividus. These species hybridise readily to produce hybrids named Helleborus x sternii after Sir Frederick Stern, one of the first exhibitors of this hybrid at an RHS Show.

Hellebores have also been associated with medicine for more than 2,200 years.

We now know that hellebores contain poisonous cardiac glycosides that have a burning taste and can also cause unpleasant dermatitis if the sap gets onto the skin.

Helleborus x nigercors

This is a clump-forming perennial with short, overwintering, leafy, biennial stems. It has variable, pedate, mid-green basal and stem leaves, 10-30cm long, with 3-5 coarsely toothed lobes.

From midwinter to early spring, short stems bear clustered cymes of numerous flattish, white, sometimes pink-flushed flowers 7-10cm across.

Cultivation

  • Helleborus x nigercors will tolerate a range of soils but prefers neutral to alkaline soil and dappled shade.
  • Plant in autumn and leave undisturbed as the fleshy roots transplant badly and may take several years to re-establish before flowering again.
  • Incorporate organic matter at planting and mulch with leaf mould in autumn.
  • All hellebores are susceptible to leaf spot which appears as large brown lesions on young foliage in the early part of the year. If severe, the lesions will spread to the flowering stems and can occasionally cause the collapse of the entire plant.
  • Helleborus x nigercors cultivars are also susceptible to hellebore black death. The symptoms are black streaking and mottling of the tissues along or between the leaf veins. To reduce the risk of spread, dig up and destroy infected plants immediately.

Propagation

  • Divide in either spring or late summer/early autumn, taking care of the fragile, fleshy roots. Plants may take a few years to re-establish before flowering.
  • You can propagate by sowing fresh seed of hellebores, but for this hybrid, it is unlikely that they will come true to the parent plant. (Wear gloves when extracting the seed).

Related links

Related links

There's more information on hellebores on the RHS Plant Selector.

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