This Month's Color in the Garden February 2017: Hellebore-Pink Blooms for Winter

Hellebores for Winter Blooms

Hellebores, also known as Lenten Rose or Christmas Rose are grown for their winter interest in the garden. The plants are frost-resistant and produce showy blooms starting in late-winter, when other perennials in the garden are dormant.  I was fortunate to have found some of these wonderful plants at a local nursery two years back, and they have proven to be a rewarding addition to the winter landscape.

Hellebore ‘Shooting Star’

There are 22 species of Hellebore with different bloom times and flower colors.  Many of the species are evergreen, possessing leathery deep green foliage. Hellebores can be grown in full sun to full shade, but mostly prefer a partially shady spot, such as a northern exposure. Plant Hellebore in a slightly acidic, moderately moist, but well-drained soil and be careful not to plant too deeply. Like Peony, the crown should be just covered with soil, because planting too deeply inhibits flower production. Bloom time is during late winter and into early spring and buds are often a pinkish-white, followed by beautiful three to four-inch wide blooms in February. Plants grow to a height and width of approximately 1-2 feet.
Hellebore Foliage and Buds
Out of the different species, the most popular and easiest to grow are the Oriental hybrid hellebores (Helleborus x hybridus), hardy in USDA hardiness zones 6–9. Their common name is Lenten rose because their blooms resemble those of roses and they bloom around the beginning of Lent, in late winter. Hellebores come in a variety of colors, including pink, white, green, apricot and purple, and can either exhibit a solid color or combination of hues with colorful specks towards the center. Flower shape includes that of single bloom, double bloom or star-shaped.
Hellebore Winter Blooms (Photo Credit:  Center portion of Photo Monrovia Brandywine Collection)

Use of Hellebores dates all the way back from 1400 BC, when they were used by herbalists to cleanse the mind of all irrational habits. Considered as both a poison and medicinal remedy, the roots, leaves and rhizomes of certain Hellebores were also used as a strong laxative for cleansing livestock taken ill. Back in Biblical times, the flower got its nickname of Christmas Rose because it was believed to be discovered from underneath the snow by a young shepherd girl named Madelon, who brought it as a gift to the newborn Christ. The ancient Greeks associated the flower with demons and possession, and considered it a cure for insanity. Although Hellebore is toxic, its parts when used in small amounts served a number of medicinal uses. The leaves and blooms of Hellebore are extremely unpleasant tasting; therefore, not readily touched by animals. Strangely, in later times, a vase of Hellebores brought into a home was considered to drive away an unpleasant atmosphere and create tranquility.

Have you heard about my new book, Landscape Design Combinations? It is a continuation of my first book, with a greater emphasis on design, including numerous numbered and labeled photographs of successful landscape plans. Step by step, the book teaches the elements of landscape design, how to choose and place various types of plants to serve a function, and how to design for the seasons. Also included are illustrations on how to build a natural stone patio or walkway, simple container combinations and the development of different garden styles throughout the centuries. Landscape Design Combinations was written to provide you with the tools needed, along with sample designs as guides, to help you to create a garden of your own. Click on the link below for a preview with more details about the book. I hope to inspire you!
As Always…Happy Gardening!

Author: [email protected] Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved