Depending upon where you live, you may be able to see one of the first flowers that are not bulbs in late winter to very early spring. That is the magnificent hellebore, a tough little plant with astounding blooms. While they perform best outdoors, you can trick a hellebore into blooming indoors too. A hellebore plant indoors can still bloom but the key is the proper temperature.
Can You Grow a Hellebore Plant Indoors?
There are plenty of colorful houseplants to enjoy during the winter months. Classic examples are the poinsettia, amaryllis, and Christmas cactus. If you are a bit bored with these varieties, however, try bringing hellebores inside. Their white to dusky rose-hued blooms provide a much-needed depth and melancholy beauty. Keeping a hellebore as a houseplant is easy but getting them to bloom requires a little trickery.
Your outdoor hellebore is an easy-to-grow plant that just needs relatively moist but well-draining soil, a partially shady to shady location, and a dose of cool weather to jump-start the blooms. Bringing hellebores inside will result in a plant of lovely foliage.
In order to bloom though, they need to experience four to six weeks of cold temperatures between 40 and 45 degrees F. (4-7 C.). Such temperatures are tough to find in the home interior. Finding a cool space to give them the cold period they need to produce flowers may mean placing them in the garage, basement, cold frame, or other sheltered, but cool site.
Keeping a Hellebore as a Houseplant
If you are bringing a plant in from outside, try to give it a period of time to adjust to the difference in temperature. Plant in a good potting soil in a container that has drainage holes. While the Lenten rose likes somewhat moist conditions, it will suffer if the soil is soggy.
Next, select a location where the plant gets some sunlight but is protected from the midday sun. A bit away from a northern or eastern window would be ideal. The plant will also benefit from a room that is as cool as possible. Either mist the plant regularly or place the container on a saucer of pebbles filled with water to increase the ambient humidity.
Indoor Hellebore Care
This is a relatively unfussy plant that won't take up much of your time. Keep the soil moderately moist, but allow the top to dry out in winter.
Trim off dead or damaged leaves as they occur to keep the plant looking its best. Move the plant to a cool location up to six weeks before you want it to bloom. After blooming, trim off the spent flower stems.
Feed the plant with a diluted balanced plant food in early spring and every three weeks until fall. Repot your hellebore every couple of years or when it becomes root bound. If you wish, you can move the plant outdoors in spring and bring it in again as winter approaches. Just don't forget to give it that chill time if you want indoor flowers.
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.
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