Hellebore Care Instructions for Growers
In order to produce blooming plants in the quickest time possible, it is essential that the plants are not stressed during growth, which will usually result in the cessation of growth for that season. These stressors may include, but are not limited to, water stress, heat stress, restriction of root room, or lack of essential nutrients. With no check in their growth, between 25-35 percent can be brought to flower in one year after first transplant, depending upon your climate. The methods we use to achieve these results follow.
Transplant after the first true leaf appears. Hellebores make strong, healthy root systems very quickly and, for that reason, we recommend a deep pot for transplanting. We use a 4" X 4" X 6" cross bottom band pot for growing on to gallon or larger. If you are producing liners, you would, of course, have to use a smaller pot or cell pack, but the critical factor is the depth of the pot. Please see the comparison photo of cell pack vs. the band pots at right.
At every transplant we fertilize with Osmocote Plus, 15-9-12, 8-9 month release. Hellebores are heavy feeders.
Being professionals, you undoubtedly don’t need this advice, but your employees may: It is important to only handle the tender young seedlings by the leaves or UPPER stem and never the roots or the stem as it meets the roots. That seems to be the entry point of fungal infections and any damage inflicted will make the plants more subject to infection.
The planting mix will vary with the regionally available materials, climate, watering regime, etc., and is probably not even worth discussing since it depends so much on your local variables. If you would like more information on our mix, email us and I will provide the formula for the mix that we use. Suffice it to say that it should provide enough "structure" for good drainage and air to the roots and hold sufficient nutrients for the quick growth of the plants.
The newly transplanted seedlings are somewhat sensitive to damping off and/or botrytis. As a preventative we have had good results using a spray of compost tea, or Zerotol, or Rhapsody (Cease is essentially the same—a bacterial). For treatment of actual disease problems in the juvenile seedlings, or later in the season (botrytis during the next winter, for example), we vary the use of Palladium, Chipco, Decree WDG, and 26GT fungicide. It is important to vary the class of chemical in order to prevent the buildup of immunity.
We begin transplanting the young plants from band pots into gallons about the end of July, transplanting those that show strong root growth at the bottom of the pot (an advantage of the cross bottom bands, the roots are readily visible). We fertilize with the slow release Osmocote Plus 15-9-12, 8-9 mos. again, at this time. Some of those plants even get transplanted into 8" pots at the end of the season if they have filled out the gallon. See pictures of our production process at right. For our shipping process, see our "Wholesale" page.