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Re: hum.../hellebores

> From: Cersgarden@aol.com
> Donna, did you cut yours off.  I did not.  Should i have cut them
back, Marge?
>     Ceres

I don't cut mine back in fall, Ceres, as I have a theory that the
older stems and leaves help hold fallen leaves around the plants for
winter mulch and protect the plant.  Besides, part of the reason I
grow them is for the evergreen foliage (on those that have it).  That
said, Graham Birkin cuts his back in fall as a matter of course. 
But, he lives in the UK and their weather is quite different from
mine and from yours for sure.  His climate is milder and much wetter
and I think one of the reasons he cuts his back is to deter fungal
diseases, which flourish in mild, damp weather.  Those in the PNW may
need to cut theirs back in fall for the same reason.  If I were you,
I'd leave yours as you have very tough winters.

I just cut some back today on the oldest plant that's showing flower
buds and another white that is doing the same.  I'm leaving them on
the guys who haven't done anything yet.  Leaves on most of my plants
really suffered this winter and look lousy- all burned and brown.  In
mild winters, they still look good at this time and I sometimes don't
get around to cutting them off until new growth starts.  That's
really too late as then you have to be so careful you're not whacking
off a new stem!

By spring, the leaves have served their purpose.  Actually, by fall
they have.  Hellebores (the hybrids) have an interesting growth
pattern.  In spring they flower from buds that are set below ground
the previous year.  There is very little root growth in spring.  With
or after flowering, they put out new leaves. In early summer, they
are concentrating on producing seeds.  In late summer, they start to
grow roots with gusto and form their flower buds for the next year.

So, actually, where winters are not too harsh, the best time to move
or divide a hybrid hellebore is in late summer.  By hybrid hellebore,
I'm talking about those that now come under Helleborus x hybridus,
not hybrids of the caulescent types like H. foetidus and H.
argutifolius.  You can't divide those, really as they only have the
one main stem.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
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