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Heck Yeah Hellebores!

Category: Plant Spotlight | Posted by: Mike Forste

Hellebores are a genus of plant that are anything but ‘hella boring,’ and here’s why:

Blooms in the Winter

Yes, that’s right, this plant flowers in freezing temperatures. Imagine a layer of freshly blanketed snow across the landscape, and peeking out from underneath that blanket, the bright, cheery faces of your hellebore. When the only signs of life in your yard are your evergreens and the occasional visiting bird, it is nice to have another kind of reminder that there are natural cycles at work around you. These plants are in bloom as early as December and can stay in bloom for over a month. Some varieties open sooner than others, with some opening about mid-December, while others bloom during the Lenten season, which is why they are often referred to as the ‘‘Lenten Rose’’ or ‘‘Christmas Rose.’’ Traditional varieties have faces that ‘nod’ to the ground, meaning you needed to use a mirror to enjoy them or get down on the ground and look up to see their beauty. Newer, hybridized varieties have been bred to stand more upright and have faces that look outward.


Cut off the spent blooms to allow the plant to focus on sending energy on growing more leaves that will be attractive throughout the Summer months. Remove its foliage in the late Fall or early Winter (the leaves will most likely be exhausted and tattered-looking at that point) once your plant has set buds for the coming weeks. Think of each leaf as a ‘lung’ of the plant. Even if it’s starting to look unappealing, it is important to leave a fair amount of foliage on so that it can continue to make and store energy throughout the year and be ready to perform when its time comes in the Winter.

Disease resistant

Crown rot is really the only common thing that will affect it as a result of too much sustained moisture. Leaf spot and downy mildew can be treated with a fungicide.

Pest resistant

The thick, glossy leaves are not attractive to deer or rabbits!* Aphids can be treated with an insecticidal soap or neem oil. Slugs could become an issue if too much moisture is present.

Reliable performer

Best placed in a shade to part-shade habitat, it can tolerate more sun when the weather is cool. Perfect placement in the garden would be a spot where it will receive shaded protection from the intense, hot sun of Summer, either under a tree or in front of some shrubs. The soil it prefers is humus-rich with the ability to drain easily (it does not want to ‘sit wet’). 18’’ x 18’’ is the typical mature size but some varieties can be smaller or larger.

Better with age

They root into the landscape fairly quick, produce more blooms over time as it matures.




Many different series are out there for the collector or the novice who may just be getting into gardening and wants to start out strong.


Gold Collection®: This collection grows 9-18″ tall 9-24″ wide depending on variety. Many have been selected for outward facing, cream flowers with accents of green or antique rose.

Honeymoon®: The single flowers come in hues of black, mauve-purple, white, yellow and pink, and since this is a mix your colors will vary. Blooms up to six weeks in late winter and spring. 

Wedding Party®: Double blooms. This series also contains colors that are a mix of black, mauve purple, white, yellow, and pink

Winter Jewels®: Covers the whole spectrum of floral color and form: singles, doubles, anemone-flowered, speckled, picoteed, veined, and nearly every color and combination of colors imaginable.

Frostkiss®: Attractive marbled venation of the leaves, outward-facing blooms.

Ice N’ Roses®: Hybrid cultivar of the Gold® Series that produces flowers ranging from pinks to greens to reds.

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