Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hellebore Plant Profile

During the winter months I thought it would be fun to showcase plant profiles of my favorite garden workhorse plants and new plants I'm interested in growing. This week's plant profile is the hellebore.

Hellebore (Helleborus comprise) is a plant I've always wanted to try out in my garden. Long ago when I first started gardening I ordered a live hellebore plant that didn't survive after planting. I've been wanting more hellebores ever since. Hellebores are long lived perennials that bloom in mid-winter through mid-spring. Hellebores are frost-resistant and many are evergreen, providing beautiful flowers and color when the garden has little else flowering. Many species of hellebore's are considered poisonous.

The most popular hellebores used in the garden are H. orientalis (Lenten Rose), sporting beautiful flower colors in spring. Lenten rose comes in a wide variety of colors, including deep purple, red, pinks, grey and near-black. Flowers on the Lenten Rose can last as long as a month's time. The Christmas hellebore (Christmas Rose) is a cottage garden flower with white flowers that at times turn to pale pink during winter. Helleborus foetidus is known as the stinking hellebore. This hellebore has green leaves and green flower on a red stem, and the flowers have a pungent smell, hence the name.

Hellebores like moist soil with good drainage, they do not like wet soil. They prefer rich soil and are heavy feeders so feeding with a time release fertilizer may be a good choice. Hellebores prefer to be planted in full to light shade. A mulch of shredded bark is a good idea when there is no snow coverage in severe winters. Hellebores are easy to grow from seed. When established hellebores re-seed easily, you may find small plant starts surrounding your original plants.

Full to light shade, zones: 4-5

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2007-01-04Helleborus05.jpg

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