Flower Focus :: Hellebores

A few weeks ago I posted this photograph on Instagram & Facebook of freshly cut hellebores out of my garden-

Hellebores grown by Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs Flower Blog

Quite a few people replied and asked how I could cut them so young and have them last? How long until they wilt?
(pretty sure under their breath they were saying – those are going to wilt!)

So here’s the deal. I look for one thing in each stem that I cut – the stem has to have at least one flower on it that has lost its stamens and is starting to go to seed. Check out the three images here, in each one you’ll see the bottom of the three blooms is without the stamens (yellow pollen). My friend Riz of RHR Horticulture shared with me awhile back that the key of getting hellebores to last is to wait to cut them until at least one flower per stem has started to go to seed. Riz is a well known horticulturist, especially here in Washington State.

harvesting hellebores

harvesting and cutting hellebores

when to pick hellebores
Ok, so after I sort through my plants I do a fresh, sharp cut on the stems I want and I immediately dipped the cut stems into QuickDip. In general I don’t use many flower aids/foods, etc. But I find with hellebores it sure doesn’t hurt to dip a fresh cut stem into QuickDip. That’s It!
I have had GREAT LUCK with these two simple steps. I cut the above hellebores two weeks ago for a design class that I was teaching — and guess what, I still have many of them in a vase on my desk!

Here’s one of my arrangements re-using the hellebores I had used in my class demonstration –

Bella Fiori Washington; arrangement of hellebores, ranunculus, viburnum

Here’s another example of how well the hellebores aged.
This is an arrangement designed by Amanda of Alluring Blooms
Designed by Amanda of Alluring Blooms, Wisconsin while at a Flirty Fleurs Floral Design Workshop in Seattle, Washington

Ten days later I took her arrangement apart, check out what was left of the flowers –
dead flowers, hellebores are still alive
Crazy, right?? The hellebores still looked great! A few tulips were trying to hang in there. The anemones, hyacinths, pieris japonica, fritillaries and ranunculus were DONE!

So there you have it, that’s what I how I care for cut hellebores out of my garden!

Fleur Friday

Floral Verde, Bridal bouquet of Burgundy Scabiosa, Burgundy Hellebores, Burgundy Sweet Peas, fritillaria, maiden hair fern, dusty miller, solomon's seal foliage

Designed by Janet of Floral Verde

I’ve been infatuated with the above bouquet designed by Janet of Floral Verde since I saw it the beginning of this week. Such fabulous colors and textures!


As for the highlights of my past week…

  • Last Sunday Patty of Brittany Flowers and I attended a flower show at Skyline Flower Growers Wholesale. Patty & I had so much fun watching the show and visiting with each other. This was my first visit to Skyline, always good to know who the suppliers are in the area, and I picked up some great tulips from them.
  • Chad & I visited the Skagit Tulip Festival this week in Mt. Vernon — wow, the endless array of tulips to see! I plan to share the photos from the festival in a week or so on the blog.

Just a reminder – Debra Prinzing and I are teaching floral design classes in Seattle on May 3rd – more information here.


Oh, and the Hellebore Hunting excursion with Riz Reyes that I mentioned on last Friday?
This was the end result…

Bella Fiori, Green and Burgundy Hellebores, Peach Quince and Akebia Vine

Bella Fiori


Check out this guide from Hellebores.org – I had no idea hellebores came in so many color varieties!

Helleborus – Free-spirited beauty with an interesting past.


Ah, the sleepy sweetness of the helleborus.  I love how the “nodding” cup shape of the helleborus begs to be held for closer inspection.  The free form nature of these beauties lend themselves as the ideal flower for vintage or loose garden arrangements. 

The hellebore, also know as the ‘Christmas Rose’  (fall varieties) or ‘lenten rose’ (Spring/Lent varieties), belongs to the Ranunculaceae family, whose members also include the anemone, ranunculus, clematis and aconite/monkshedThe helleborus flower is comprised of nectaries surrounded by 5 ‘petal-like’ sepals.  The sepals do not fall off stem like petals would. This characteristic makes them a perfect candidate for boutonnieres and corsages.



—In the spring month of March and April we see the green varieties and the green dappled with burgundy.  We see the deep, dusty pink, almost plum, ‘moonshine’ variety from August through November.

Vase Life: 

—Approximately 5-7 days.

—Score the stem a few times with sharp knife approximately 2-3 inches from the bottom of the stem to get a few extra days longer out of these beauties.  
—Use a ‘mass’ bloom, like the hydrangea, to prop their sweet little heads upright within an arrangement. 

Interesting tidbits:
—Helleborus has witchcraft and medicinal links with the past as several species of the plant are poisonous.
—Many historians believe Alexander the Great, the ancient king of Macedon, death was a result of a helleborus overdose.  Apparently he consumed large quantities of the plant for medical reasons.  So, please, don’t do that.  

Alexander and Aristotle

Spring arrangement with helleborus, tulips, garden roses and freesia