Hellebore: a new production proposal for the Ligurian nursery sector

Hellebore: a new production proposal for the Ligurian nursery sector



Rural Development Program 2014-20120 - LIGURIA M01.02 “Support for information activities and actions”; Action a) “DEMONSTRATIVE ACTIVITIES” (implementation of Regional Executive Decision No. 1339/2016)


DURATION: 1st August 2017 - 31st May 2018


IRF ROLE: Service provider




Scope and objectives


To date, in Italy and Liguria, the cultivation of hellebore is not widespread and is considered to be rather niche, often relating to the world of enthusiasts and collectors. However, over recent years, there has been an increase in its use in garden design and floral bouquets.

This project was developed to demonstrate the opportunity for local companies to diversify their production with this new product, which can be used for both cut and vase flowers.


From the selection work of a previous Rural Development Programme project (“EMIFLOR - Pathways for Innovation in Floriculture”, Aid Application No. 94751181820), the IRF was able to identify hellebore varieties particularly suitable for our local soil and climate conditions. Using this information, the NewHell project was established to promote the selected varieties for production purposes and to develop an efficient in vitro propagation system to obtain seedlings for transfer to pilot fields for demonstration activities and budgeted practical exercises. A collaboration with one of the major cooperatives in the area then allowed a proper evaluation of the finished product, considered particularly important for the introduction of such a new product into commercial flows.


The aim of the project was to demonstrate to interested agricultural entrepreneurs, through close public-private collaboration and the sharing of consolidated experiences in various pilot companies, how hellebore varieties, carefully selected for the Mediterranean climate, could help develop their businesses in terms of both the production of flowers and their marketing. Since hellebore is a crop with low thermal and crop management needs, the demonstration activities proposed under the NewHell project are naturally suitable for increasing the competitiveness of companies within a sustainable production framework.


Methodological approach


The project’s aim was to introduce a product innovation through the preparation and management of new catalogue plant varieties and species and the management of their industrial cultivation as an operational demonstration.


As part of the demonstration activities, which were the predominant part of the project, particular attention was paid to the dissemination of the results and information obtained.


Results and impacts


The NewHell demonstration project’s main objective was the promotion of hellebore cultivation, already developed and studied through regional actions and projects conducted by the Regional Institute for Floriculture (IRF) and considered innovative for the Ligurian territory.


The project was made possible through the development and consolidation of a working group overseeing interactions between public and private bodies and various companies, including the IRF, the Tre Ponti Cooperative of Sanremo, the company Gagliardi Domenico di Riva Ligure, the company Stalla Franco di Albenga and several pilot companies that had already collaborated together in previous initiatives.

In addition to operational activities, a series of ad hoc meetings, exercises and seminars were held, and technical data sheets relating to cultivation techniques, packaging, marketing and the use of hellebore flowers were prepared and distributed.


A certain number of meetings took place in Sanremo and Imperia, and a certain number in Albenga, in order to disseminate information about the demonstration activities both throughout the Province of Imperia, more suited to the production of cut flowers, and the Province of Savona, which is seeing an increase in the production of pot plants. All these activities contributed to the introduction of innovative products and were necessary to obtain direct feedback from the production sector.




IRF - Regional Institute for Floriculture, Sanremo, Italy

Azienda Agricola Ricca Sergio, Imperia, Italy (production pilot company)

Azienda Stalla Franco, Albenga (hybridization company)

Cooperativa Tre Ponti, Sanremo (pilot marketing company)



Margherita Beruto (IRF Coordinator and Manager,

Federico Di Battista (Field Test Technician,

Serena Viglione (In Vitro Test Technician,

Elena Delfini (Technical-administrative Staff,

Diego Maccario (collaborator)

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