Hellebores are lovely, yet still uncommon

Bed of Hellebores blooming profusely in front of gold sedge. Click image for larger view.

We don’t have a lot of perennials that bloom in the shade. And, we don’t have a lot of perennials that bloom in February and early March. And, we don’t have many perennials that have the grace and beauty that these flowers have.

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These are the Hellebores, and they’re something special.

Rather than going into a long narrative sales pitch for this plant, let my bullet points tell their story for them.

Hellebores have done well in a shaded corner of the Sperry home landscape.

What you’ll want to know about Hellebores…
• Common name: Lenten rose (because of season of bloom)
• Scientific name: Helleborus x hybridus
• Preferred planting site: Full shade to 2-3 hours of early morning sun in the summer
• Flower colors: White, pink, rosy-purple, dark purple, two-toned. Single and double.
• New varieties are being introduced all the time. Look for more colors and flowers that are displayed outward and upward. Older types have tended to hang their flowers downward.
• Bloom time: February into April
• Preferred planting soil: Highly organic, including 2-3 in. of sphagnum peat moss, 1 in. each of: well-rotted compost, finely shredded pine bark mulch and fully decayed manure. Also 1 in. of expanded shale if you’re amending a heavy clay soil. Rototill all the amendments into the soil to a depth of 12 in.
• Mature height and spread: Up to 18 in. tall and 12-15 in. wide.
• Best companion plants to grow alongside: Hollies, aucuba, azaleas, camelias, mahonia, Texas Gold columbines, ferns, hostas, violets, oxalis, summer phlox, golden sedge, mondograss and various liriopes, caladiums, and elephant ears.
• Planting time: As nurseries offer them for sale in February through April. (Supplies go quickly. Don’t delay.)

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Also available online…
Hellebores are widely sold online. One outstanding source of unusual perennials of all types is Plant Delights Nursery, 9241 Sauls Rd., Raleigh NC 27603 (https://www.plantdelights.com). I have no commercial ties with them. Like many other horticulturists, I simply admire their incredible standards.

To illustrate the wide range of colors and forms of Hellebores available, I have borrowed two photos from their website.

French Kiss
Plant Delights Nursery
Rose Quartz
Plant Delights Nursery
(Photo from Terra Nova Nursery)

You might enjoy this video from their website. In it, Plant Delights owner Tony Avent explains the various types of Hellebores.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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