Plant Division: Hellebores

hellebore propagation (1)

There are about 20 species in this genus of herbaceous or evergreen perennial flowering plants that come from the Ranunculaceae family. Fancy Dan long words and technical horticulture aside, if you ask one of them reads like a star sign garden advice columns for a flowering winter plant, Hellebores will no doubt always feature.

That said, for the old school gardeners out there, not having a Hellebore in your collection is a bit like not having Creedance Clearwater Revival on vinyl. And I and you both know, there is something seriously wrong if that is the case and for damn good reason. The reason I love them, is that they are best propagated, multiplied if you will, by division. A less technical term to use here might be splitting.

The Monty Don type gardening programmes of this world will recommend you put two garden forks back to back, bending the handles in opposite directions and tease them apart. Personally, though they are the best man for the job, I hate them short-handled ‘gardening forks’. And unless you are a Leprechaun, you will find they are just too small and require a fellow of my height is bent over at all times during their usage and that, unless you like moaning about your aches for eons is a pointless exercise.

Some may say I’m wrong to advise different to what for decades has always been the advice. But for me, in gardening one needs to be a little bit cocky. Cocky in a good way, if you get me. Like that dosser mate of yours who was always just too good at Mathematics whilst you struggling the whole time through and never understood why he never had to work at it; in reality and behind the scenes he very simply got and understood the equation. Yup, there’s a bit of that here for me.

The key here is knowing how far down to ram the spade in to insert your spade head, tiddling either through the newer growth as you go. To better get a grasp on it, when I was 12 or so I used to use my Dads hand saw for cutting steel; to better get a sense of how to instinctively just know. Funnily enough, when I got to college I was handed the exact same tool to propagate mint. And if you look at the image above, you’ll see the plant has a root system which has always reminded me of a sort of spliced cross section of a chocolate biscuit cake; so it kind of makes sense, if you get me.

Division done. Pot them up. Replant one or two bits for yourself and let the whole process start all over again. As for the rest of the plants, you can give them out as pressies. I know both Grandmam’s will be getting one from Ella once the pots root systems fill out. And isn’t that just the loveliest case of home grown is always better than shop bought 😉

hellebore flower


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