If you are a gardener, you probably have favorites in your garden. Although my favorite flower is often the one blooming today, one of my favorites is the Hellebore or Lenten Rose. It not only blooms in the shade or part shade, it blooms in the wintertime. Then, once the flowers have passed and the seedpods have opened, it still looks good. It will hold what look like flowers above the foliage for months.
Speaking of the foliage, it is cut leaf and deep green – and evergreen. It will colonize by seeding around the base of the plant. I have heard it can be too rambunctious in some gardens, but I have to say I would love that problem.
Hellebores are very easy care. They like a somewhat alkaline soil, so I add lime around the plants every winter along with a top dressing of composted manure. In the winter, just as the buds are appearing, cut off the old leaves and you will be rewarded with strong flower stems that stand above the ground. New foliage will soon fill in underneath.
There are new Lenten Roses developed that are available this year. I was sent 3 last year to trial. I have a favorite of the three: Helleborus Pink Frost is one of the most stunning Lenten Roses I have ever grown. It is an interspecific hybrid in the Gold Collection from Heuger breeding.
I love it, and not just because it is blooming now. In my garden, it flowered all winter in a pot and is still going strong. The flowers open pink and age to deep red. For hellebores, these are very large flowers, extra showy.
Look for Pink Frost Lenten Rose (Helleborus ‘HGC Pink Frost’ PPAF)
If snow covers your garden in winter, then you can expect this plant to bloom very early when the snow exits or maybe even peek through the snow. This could be February in some parts of the country. Visit this website to find the approximate date you can expect this hybrid hellebore to blossom in your area: http://www.helleborus.us/FloweringResponseMap.html
By Ron Harrison, Ph.D., Entomologist and Orkin Technical Services Director
Photographs courtesy of Orkin
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