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All About Hellebores AKA Lenten Roses

Hellebores at a Glance

Part to full shade; grows well in containers; Perennial, hardy Zones 5a-8b

Mid-late winter to early spring flowers; showy flowers; self- sows

Clumping flowers with upright flower stalks and large leaves; 3 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide max

No serious insect or disease problems. Deer and rabbit resistant.

Fast Facts About Hellebores

  • Hellebores are called Lenten Roses because they typically bloom during the Christian season of Lent
  • They are not a true rose, but have rose-shaped blooms
  • There are many colors and varieties of Hellebores
  • Different colors of hellebores can cross-breed, creating surprise colors in the garden
  • You can save hellebore seeds to pot, and you can divide mature plants once they’re large enough!

Hellebore Care 101

Planting Hellebores: Where, How, and When

  • Where: Opt for a site with dappled or partial shade, though hellebores can endure dense shade, they thrive better in partial shade. Ideal locations mimic woodland conditions, such as beneath deciduous trees. Sloped areas are preferable for proper drainage if your soil tends to be soggy.
  • How: Plant hellebores in well-draining soil enriched with compost, ensuring not to cover the crown of the plant. They prefer humus-rich soil for optimal growth.
  • When: Fall or early spring are suitable times for planting hellebores, avoiding frozen ground or excessively hot weather.

Growing Conditions:

  • Soil: Moist, well-draining soil enriched with organic matter is best, avoiding waterlogged conditions.
  • Watering: Keep soil lightly moist, supplementing with irrigation during dry spells, aiming for a deep watering once a week.
  • Mulching: Apply mulch in fall and leave old leaves as a natural mulch and soil conditioner. Remove old leaves in late winter to expose foliage and new blooms.
  • Light: Full to partial shade is preferred, often planted under deciduous trees for seasonal variation.
  • Fertilizing: Apply balanced fertilizer in fall along with compost and/or bone meal.

Pruning:

Trim winter-tatty foliage as flowers emerge, leaving bare stems, or prune old foliage when new leaves appear about two months after bloom starts, depending on aesthetic preference.

Dividing and Transplanting:

Hellebores rarely need division but can be divided for propagation in early fall. Wear gloves to avoid skin reactions from sap. Dig up the plant, divide into sections, keeping roots moist, and transplant immediately following planting instructions above.