Hellebores are among the first plants to bloom, at times as early as January. They signal the arrival of spring with their delicate cup-shaped flowers, which come in a range of shades.
Because of their toxic nature, herbivores such as deer and rabbits stay away from evergreen perennials. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about pests causing a lot of problems when you plant them.
Our instructional manual for cultivating hellebores walks you through the basics of care for the plant species within USDA Hardiness Zones 4–9.
A close-up vertical photo of a flowerbud that is getting ready to open and is covered in tiny aphids. The background is blurred. There’s a printed area of text in white and green in the center and bottom of the image.
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In the next section, we will look at the most common bugs that can attack hellebores. We will also provide options for remedies should your plants be affected.
Aphids on Hellebore
The fight against aphids can sometimes appear to be in constant sight. Even though different kinds of aphids are recognized as having the ability to infest hellebores, However, the most important aphid you should be on the lookout for is the aphid known as the hellebore, which is scientifically referred to by the scientific name of Macrosiphum hellebori. This particular bug that has a grayish-green color is a parasite that feeds only on hellebores.
A horizontal close-up image of a flower that has aphids, which are tiny insects.
Sometimes, aphids can be seen as large clusters of aphids on flowers, leaves or the stems of the plant. However, at other times, they hide in the leaves’ undersides and are happy to feed and cause havoc , without you knowing they’re there. This could be a concern since aphids are known to transmit plant diseases.
The quicker you can take care to catch these bugs that feed on sap, the better off you’ll be. There is a tasty and sticky substance known as “honeydew,” which is what draws ants and sooty mold. It looks like a nasty dark layer that can be seen on the petals and leaves.
Since it is an animal vector for Hellebore Net Necrosis virus (HeNNV), which is a pathogen that causes black death and the hellebore aphid, it is one of the most threatening pests. In our guide, you’ll learn more about hellebore black-death.
The question is, what can a gardener do? To identify if there’s a problem, the first thing to do is check your plants regularly and pay close attention to the leaves’ undersides.
If you find only a few insects, you could crush them between your fingers and thumb if you’re comfortable doing something that isn’t pleasant. If you discover more than a few bugs, then you need to look for something else.
You can also try to remove them with a vigorous blast of water out of the hose. However, you’ll need to be cautious not to cause damage to the flowers.
For a different method to control biological factors, attempt to release larvae of predatory lacywings. It’s only the larval stage that they are predatory and will readily feed on aphids.
A vertically-oriented view of a plastic bottle filled with green lacewing larvae. They will be released into the garden.
The larvae of the lacewing
Arbico Organics is where you are able to get the green lacewing larvae so that you can release them onto the plants affected. Then, you’ll be at a point where you can put your feet up and relax, confident that these beneficial insects will take control of the problem independently.
If the aphid population is growing out of control and covering large areas of the plants you have, then you may be interested in applying Neem oil or Bonide(r) Insecticidal Soap to your plants. Both can be effective against aphids.
On a white background , is shown a close-up horizontal image that shows a bottle of Bonide insecticidal soap. The bottle is shown in a close-up view.
Bonide(r) Insecticidal Soap
Arbico Organics carries ready-to-spray bottles of Bonide(r) Insecticidal Soap that can be used to repel and kill insects.
Be sure to treat affected areas, such as the leaf’s undersides, since the insects have spread across the plant.
The natural sprays we previously discussed have a variety of disadvantages, among which is the fact that they need to be applied regularly, at least once every four to seven days. If you have aphids that are similar to mine, you can anticipate that they will be back.
There is the option of making use of a synthetic pyrethroid like deltamethrin. It is found in items like D-Fense SC, which is available on Amazon for those who are tired from fighting and need to keep control over an extended period of time.
If you’re working on your gardening with chemical products, be sure to use extreme caution and be sure that you follow the instructions provided by the producer.
Are you interested in learning more about aphids? Take a look at our guide.
The Leaf Miners
Are you aware of the various varieties of hellebores growing in your backyard? One specific kind, Phytomyza hellebori, has its own distinctive leaf miners, which feed solely on the leaves of this species. It’s amazing how lucky the plants are!
The only species affected is Helleborus fetidus, commonly referred to as the bearsfoot or stinking hellebore.
P. hellebori is a small but significant insect that lays eggs in the leaves of your plants.However, the existence of the eggs isn’t the reason for the damage. Once the eggs hatch, they traverse the leaves and eat the plant tissues while they move.
A horizontal close-up image of the bottom of a hellebore leaf, showing the damage caused by leaf mining.
Image by Gyorgy Csoka, Hungary Forest Research Institute, Bugwood.org, and the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.
If you take a closer look, you’ll see that the leaves are covered with small black spots scattered about, and also a few small tunnels, which could appear white or light brown in colour. Because the female flies tend to lay their eggs during the latter part of the summer, damage is usually not discovered until spring.
The plants are damaged because of the injury. However, the good news is that they don’t die because of the damage.
In the majority of cases, experts advise getting rid of the damaged leaves and then disposing of them to prevent larvae from turning into adults and creating an entirely new generation of adult insects. The reason for this is that the damage is not severe in the natural world.
Insecticides won’t be effective in eradicating leaf miners, as suggested by the Royal Horticultural Society. This is because the larvae of leaf miners are in the leaves.
Learn more about stopping leaf miners from spreading the damage here.
3. Aquatic Snails and Land Slugs
Hellebores are particularly susceptible to attack by snails. These slimy insects will not only feast on the foliage. However, they can also climb up the stalks and eat the blooms should they be given the chance.
A horizontal close-up of a snail scurrying through the grass, the background being green and blurred.
For instance, taking the slimy gastropods in hand and then giving the slugs to your chickens or throwing away beer-related supplies in traps are plenty of methods to rid yourself of snails and slugs.
“Slug” Gone is a unique product that is sourced from the United Kingdom and is produced using wool. It is sold through Arbico Organics and may be purchased from the company.
A close-up, square picture of the Slug Gone package. Slug Gone is made of wool pellets that are made to keep snails and slugs away.
It is safe to consume and can be purchased in the form of pellets. To apply it, sprinkle the pellets of crushed wool across the area of your garden and completely sprinkle them with water. The method you choose to use is easier.
It is crucial to be aware that the pellets grow into a mat that snails and slugs cannot pass through. This mat doesn’t harm snails, but rather hinders their movement.
Take a look at our guide for more information about how to deal with snails and slugs.
Weevils of the Vine
Otiorhynchus sulcatus, also known as vine weevils, can be a menace to all kinds of plants planted in gardens and containers. The adults aren’t known to cause any damage, but the grubs can cause disaster on your hellebores.
A mature vine weevil can be visible in this close-up, horizontal image, chewing away at some greenery and is shown against the dark background.
Adult weevils have dull yellow casings on their wings and measure 5/16 inch in length.They accomplish this by nibbling on the leaves. This causes the leaf edges to be unevenly shaped.
While this may result in minor visual damage, it’s not a reason to overlook it since it’s an indicator of something that may be going on under the surface.
Adult vine weevils lay eggs in the soil, and the eggs hatch into grubs that resemble C-shaped heads with light brown heads after they develop. They are born in the soil and their diet is comprised of the roots and the basal branches of plants.
A side-by-side view of a white, see-through larva of a vine weevil lying on the ground.
If you’re not vigilant, you might not know that something is wrong until the plant starts to lose its shape and then dies and dies.
Handpick the adults in the evening or shake small potted plants on a large piece of paper to release them. It is also possible to do it by shaking pots that are larger.
In order to rid yourself of the harmful grubs, an alternative is biological control.
The good nematode Steinernema Krausseii, which is sold by Arbico Organics, can kill the larvae of the Vine Weevil.
A close-up photograph, in a square format, of the package that comes with NemaSeek, with pictures of helpful nematodes set against white backgrounds.
Beneficial Nematodes NemaSeek
To use the nematodes, mix them in the water as indicated on the label, then spread the mixture over the area that needs to be treated. After 7–10 months have passed, you’ll have to submit a new application.
If the condition is extremely severe, you may want to apply the treatment three times.