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|Helleborus are member of the genus Ranunculaceae, the Buttercup family. There are seventeen species in the genus Helleborus: Three of those species; H. multifidus, H. niger and H. orientalis are split up in two or four subspecies. Together there are twenty four species and subspecies. They are growing in the southern Europe, Turkey, Russia and China. Beside the twenty four species and subspecies there are also a few cross between two species. The best known Helleborus are those we call garden hybrids and where the parents are unknown. Before the garden hybrids were known as H. oriental hybrids. Today they are called Helleborus x hybridus. Only a few of them are named, mostly they are sold as colour forms.|
Nearly all species are hardy in Denmark, but species like H. lividus and the hybrid H. x sternii, is a cross between H. lividus and H. argustifolius can be sensitive to frost and if we grow them in our gardens, we must plant them on a protected place and protect them in winter, or grow them in a greenhouse. H. vesicarius, from the Southern Turkey, is the most frost tender species and it grows best in a frost-free greenhouse. Helleborus thibetanus, from China, starts growing in very early spring and can be sensitive to frost. Every autumn I protect the new growth of this species with old beech leaves. To grow it requires plenty of moisture. Kevin Belcher has made a fantastic cross between H. niger and H. thibetanus calling H. x “Pink Ice”, but unfortunately is it still very rare.
Helleborus are easy and tolerant plants and grow in most kinds of soil, as long it’s not too moist or dry. They prefer a place in semi shade and every spring I put a little lime around the plants. About Christmas, in early winter, I cut all old leaves off, because the old leaves can be infected with fungus.
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Hybrids between species: