Posted by Judith Knott Tyler on September 16, 2015
In a prior post I wrote about the greening of pale coloured hellebore flowers. This time I am writing about the yellowing of new hellebore foliage. As with the "green flower" calls in spring in autumn we get the "yellow foliage" calls. These usually come from growers who have purchased our Helleborus x hybridus Pine Knot Select single flowering hellebores or Helleborus x hybridus Pine Knot Southern Belles double flowering forms in the cell flats.
Every year as the plants begin to put on new foliage they can undergo a transient nutrient deficiency which is displayed as yellowing of the leaves. We have discussed this many times with various experts in plant nutrition. (Especially since we have an "in" with the North Carolina State Horticultural Science Department, Dr Helen Tyler Kraus Helen Tyler Kraus our much loved daughter.)
Apparently the plants are simply growing faster than they can suck up the available nutrients in the growing media. After a week or three the available nutrients will catch up with the growth rate and the foliage will begin to green up. This happens every year, so far we have never had a hellebore crop not turn green.
This is not to be confused with the yellow foliage on the yellow flowering plants like the O'Byrne's Helleborus x hybridus Golden Lotus or Golden Sunrise strain. These two seed strains are bred from plants that have a strong yellow pigment that not only produce yellow flowers but also is seen in the foliage. There are some plants that have yellow flowers with a red eye. On select plants there may be a flower with a red eye and the red can extend all the way down the petiole. A plant with red eyed yellow blooms that has red stems and yellow leaves is a very interesting plant. We pull most of these out to add to out own gardens, but each year we leave some to have on hand for the Hellebore Festivals. This provides a treat for loyal customers who come out to the farm each year and patiently look at each flower. ;)