I Bought A Houseplant

– Posted in: Hellebores
15 comments

Helleborus 'HGC Jacob'

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’

There’s nothing extraordinary about buying a houseplant, except I just got done whining about how I’m sick of caring for houseplants. Go ahead, call me a hypocrite; I’ll wait.

Now that we’ve got that over with, let me tell you about this holiday plant. ‘HGC Jacob’ hellebore is a perennial. This is not really a houseplant, this is a perennial that is waiting for the snow to melt and the soil to thaw so I can plant it outdoors. How many other holiday plants can cold climate gardeners say that about? Not poinsettias. Not cyclamen (at least, not the kind they sell this time of year). Not those rosemaries trimmed into Christmas tree shapes. (Well, you can plant them outside next spring but you’ll have to bring them in again.) Not even paperwhites.

This hellebore is part of the Helleborus Gold Collection. They are marketed to growers as “an alternative to cyclamen, primrose, and bulbs in the November through March sales season.” Heuger, the grower, says that “our varieties provide real added-value when the consumer can purchase a good-looking plant that makes a great garden plant.” I think that’s true. I bought ‘Jacob’ because I knew I’d be able to plant it outside in the spring.

All the hellebores in this series are either varieties or hybrids of Helleborus niger, which is called the Christmas rose in Great Britain because it blooms in December there. Of course, their plants aren’t buried in a foot of snow.

Cabin fever bed mid-December 2013

This is where many of my other hellebores, including ‘HGC Josef Lemper’, are planted.

Skagit Gardens sent me trial plants of ‘HGC Josef Lemper’, ‘HGC Cinnamon Snow’, and ‘HGC Pink Frost’ several years ago. If you recall, I almost killed my dear ‘Josef Lemper’ because I didn’t realize he needed better drainage than what he was getting. I did kill ‘Cinnamon Snow’ for the same reason, but I plan on trying again, now that I know better. In fact, I’d love to grow all the hellebores in this series. Skagit Gardens’ brochure shows the approximate bloom time of each of these HGC hellebores, and I see ‘HGC Joshua’ blooms even earlier than ‘HGC Josef Lemper’.

I will probably get tired of taking care of this houseplant eventually. But for now it is cheering me up with the promise of spring.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Optimism overrules pessimism because every spring is an opportunity to start again.

~Laurie Lisle in Four Tenths of an Acre: Reflections on a Gardening Life

15 Comments… add one

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern December 21, 2013, 12:32 pm

I just commented that I have way too many houseplants but I would buy this one, too! How great that you will be able to plant it out come Spring!

Emily December 19, 2013, 7:44 pm

Wow, I’d never thought of buying Hellebores now and keeping them as houseplants until spring. How long did you have it before it bloomed for you? It looks pretty happy. I live in Whatcom County, WA, just north of Skagit, and Hellebores–not surprisingly–very popular around here. Every year the local nurseries have late fall or early winter sales featuring the newest cultivars. Right now I have several planted outdoors (including the HGC Jacob and Pink Frost) and the foliage looks horrible. But in a month or so I’ll cut all the leaves off and the flowers will emerge. Wonderful, hardy, deer-resistant (and we have a LOT of deer) plants.

Kathy Purdy December 19, 2013, 7:57 pm

Emily, I took the picture the day after I bought it. It came with all those blooms on it. It was forced in a greenhouse in Canada. This will be my first time trying to keep one alive until I can plant it outdoors, which will be late March at the very earliest. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

David December 19, 2013, 12:31 pm

I killed my last Hellbore for the same reason, I haven’t tried a houseplant since. I much prefer my garden and I am so ready for spring!

Linda December 19, 2013, 7:48 am

A wonderful gardening friend gave me one of these for Christmas last year! I kept it, blooming :), on an unheated sun porch that averages about 40-50 degrees all winter ( be very careful not to over-water! ), and in spring divided it in half and planted it in a bed near my back door. Both plants were blooming in the bitter cold at the beginning of this month! I live in Upstate New York, not far from Lake Ontario-zone 6 or 6b. I think I will look for more of the series! I love my houseplants, but they only survive for me in my cool house in the winter because they know they will be going outdoors again in the Spring!

AmyO December 18, 2013, 9:31 pm

I so love Hellebores and grow loads from seed. a couple words of advice with your new plant is to keep as eye out for aphids through the winter and to take the pot cover off and replace it with a saucer so you can see when water is collecting in it. too easy to drown a plant with those foil covers.
Enjoy your beautiful addition!

Kathy Purdy December 18, 2013, 10:59 pm

Good point about the cover. I usually do take those things off.

Joene December 18, 2013, 3:39 pm

Hellebores are on my list of plants I’d love to grow but I don’t intend to spend the $$ just for deer to have another meal. So, all you hellebore growers … do deer in your areas munch on hellebores?

Kathy Purdy December 18, 2013, 4:03 pm

Joene, hellebores are on several lists of plants deer don’t care for, but if you search online you will find gardeners whose hellebores were eaten. Currently the deer walk through my yard and eat my neighbor’s plants. Can’t imagine why, but I’m thankful.

Joene December 18, 2013, 4:14 pm

Thanks, Kathy. I’m aware that hellebores are on many deer-resistant plant lists. Unfortunately, it seems that deer in my area don’t read … they have eaten so many supposedly deer-resistant plants. I’d be interested in learning how your hellebores make out, as well as how deer resistant they have been in other gardens. Hope your readers will share.

Leslie December 18, 2013, 11:46 am

I love to use these in outdoor winter planters, then into the garden where they can be seen from windows. They don’t really want to be inside at house temps. Try and find a slightly protected place where they can be cold and get lots of sun.

I love’em here in CT

Kathy Purdy December 18, 2013, 12:46 pm

That’s a great idea to use them in outdoor winter planters. I plan to keep mine in a cooler part of the house with lots of sun and cross my fingers.

Alana December 18, 2013, 6:18 am

I bought one of these, too, at Tioga Gardens during their holiday showcase in November. It’s developing the greenish flowers advertised as the flowers age “in a warm area”. But it isn’t happy. I hope we can keep ours alive until we can plant it outside.

Tuckshop Gardener December 18, 2013, 3:49 am

I feel the same way about houseplants – just somehow can’t muster enthusiasm for tending them in the way that I do my outside space (which I obsess over constantly!). Why is it? I do love the softness they add to a room when they are not dusty and bent double from neglect, but I would rather have the wow of a big bunch of flowers freshly plucked from the garden to give the same effect. I suppose I just want the outside to come in, not to have a set of plants imprisoned beyond the reach of natural UV and the elements! I think my feelings about houseplants are akin to my feelings for caged birds.

Angie December 18, 2013, 11:04 am

I saw these little beauties in sale at my local GC yesterday – I was tempted but put it back on the shelf!
I don’t do house plants other than the fact I’m very poor at keeping them, I much prefer plants in the garden.

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