If the garden just doesn’t feel like a garden until some flowers are blooming, be sure to include Hellebores into your landscape. These cold hardy, deer and rabbit-resistant, evergreen perennials can start blooming as early as mid-winter. Their attractive foliage looks great throughout the year, and their rose-like, nodding, bell-shaped flowers can remain for months, deepening their color as they mature.
Hellebores are easy to grow and maintain. They prefer full to partial shade with rich, well-drained soil with a neutral pH and look wonderful in shady, sloped areas. They can be toxic, so plant them where pets can’t get to them. There are an ever-growing number of Hellebore hybrids which include varieties whose blooms remain more upright, have double blossoms and range in color from frosty white to near ink black, with a rainbow of pinks, bright greens, yellows, reds and more in between. These can also have additional colors lining the edges of the blooms as well as dotted throughout their centers.
There are 17 species of Hellebores, the 4 most popular and easiest to grow include:
Helleborus argutifolius (Corsican Hellebore) – More sun-tolerant than others species, Corsican Hellebores can have up to 30 large, nodding, pale green flowers with green stamens. The have thick green stems with blue-green leaves and reach a height of 2-3 feet. “Pacific Frost” is a beautiful variety with pristine white flowers and dark green foliage that’s heavily “frosted” (speckled with white).
Helleborus foetidus (Stinking Hellebore) – Produce large chartreuse blooms with dark red edges and is a great choice for dry shade. “Wester Flisk” has soft gray-green flowers with red-tinged leaves.
Helleborus niger (Christmas Rose) – Produce large, bowl-shaped white flowers with showy golden stamens. Their white color fades to green and then to rosy-pink as the blooms mature, with the flowers facing outward unlike other species which tend to face downward. They grow to a height of 8-12 inches. “HGC Merlin” produces show-stopping black-blue blooms.
Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose) – The most colorful and abundant blooming species, ranging from creamy white to smoky plum. Mature plants can boast 50 or more flowers that last over two months. These are the easiest of all Hellebores to transplant – something that the plant doesn’t typically do well with – and is a quick spreader. “Windcliff Double Pink Lenten Rose” is a stunning variety with gorgeous, double-rosy pink flowers.
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