Hellebores, also known as Lenten roses, are so-named because of the rose-like flowers that appear in the early springtime around the Christian observance of Lent. What appears to be the plant’s blooms are actually sepals that protect the true flower. They can last for several months amongst their evergreen foliage, even through the coldest months.
Read on to find out how you can grow beautiful hellebores in your garden.
Jump To a Section Below
- What Is Hellebore?
- How To Grow Hellebore
- How To Care For Your Hellebore Flowers
- Common Questions on Hellebore Plants
- Are hellebores annuals or perennials?
- Do hellebores like sun or shade?
- How toxic are hellebores?
- Should you deadhead hellebores?
- Why are hellebores so expensive?
- Is hellebore poisonous to dogs?
- What animal eats hellebores?
- What should you do with hellebores when they are finished flowering?
- Are hellebores invasive?
- Can hellebores be grown in pots?
What Is Hellebore?
Hellebore flowers originated in the Balkan countries, Russia, China and Central Europe. Over the past few decades, the crossing and hybridisation that has taken place have resulted in some truly spectacular colouring and markings on the flowers.
Hellebore flowers come in cream, white, various shades of pink, yellow, purple, blue, and even green. Some hybrids of the flower have petals edged with different colours, while others display bright spots or stripes.
Interestingly, avid gardeners have noted that different colours of hellebores start flowering at different times. Depending on the colour of the plant, their gardens are always filled with little splashes of colour.
How To Grow Hellebore
If you are considering growing your own hellebore plants, take note of the following tips:
When to Plant Hellebore
Hellebores should be planted either in spring or autumn. If planted in autumn, make sure that you leave them enough time for the roots to grow before the ground freezes. Usually, about four to five weeks is sufficient.
Where to Plant Hellebore
To enjoy downward-facing hellebores, plant them on a hillside or in a raised flower bed.
How to Plant Hellebore
If you are planting your hellebores directly from a nursery container, make sure that you shake off the potting mix to free up any bound roots. Avoid planting your hellebores too deeply, as this could limit the production of flowers. The crown of the plant is best placed just slightly beneath the soil.
How To Care For Your Hellebore Flowers
Hellebore flowers are fairly easy to care for once established, as long as the conditions are right. These flowers tend to be at their best in moist, well-drained soil in partial shade. During extended dry periods, make sure that you water them well. An established hellebore plant is resistant to drought.
The best soil for hellebores is soil that is well-enriched with copious amounts of organic matter. However, this could vary depending on the kind of hellebore planted.
For example, the hybrid known as the ‘Christmas Rose’ is a bit slow to establish but can be helped along with a dose of magnesium in the form of Epsom salts to the soil. On the other hand, the hybrid known as Helleborus x hybridus prefers soil with a neutral pH and even alkaline.
The only real threat to hellebore plants is snail damage, but this can be controlled with bait.
Although hellebore plants are evergreen, their foliage can start to look a bit tattered come springtime. Pruning back dead and disfigured foliage will encourage new growth to appear. Also, be sure to remove old flower stems but avoid doing so if you have Bear’s-foot hellebores planted as these carry the buds formed in the previous season.
Common Questions on Hellebore Plants
Are hellebores annuals or perennials?
Hellebore flowers are perennials, which means they will continue to bloom for a number of years.
Do hellebores like sun or shade?
Hellebores are very hardy plants and are tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions. Hybrid hellebores perform best when in partial shade, as long as they have well-draining soil.
How toxic are hellebores?
The leaves, stems and roots of hellebore plants are toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Thankfully, the plant’s unpleasant taste repels animals from eating it in large quantities. Ingesting hellebores is rarely lethal, but caution should always be applied when animals or small children are near the plant.
Should you deadhead hellebores?
Hellebores do not necessarily need to be deadheaded. However, for the sake of promoting new growth and eliminating the risk of contracting any leaf spot diseases, deadheading hellebores is recommended.
Why are hellebores so expensive?
These flowers are generally quite expensive because it takes anywhere between three to five years for them to bloom, and growers generally only sell blooming plants.
Is hellebore poisonous to dogs?
All parts of the hellebore plant are toxic and have the potential to make dogs quite sick. However, they taste quite foul, so dogs are generally deterred from eating too much, if any, of the plant. Dogs should always be observed when around hellebore plants.
What animal eats hellebores?
Hellebore plants are foul-tasting, which is what keeps most animals away from them. However, slugs often eat holes in the leaves of the plant. This can be combated by picking the slugs off the plants at night or by using bait.
What should you do with hellebores when they are finished flowering?
Many gardeners agree that once your hellebore plant finishes flowering, you should prune them. This generally happens in the later winter or early spring months.
As soon as new growth starts to appear, trim them and get rid of the old leaves by slicing them at the base. If the old foliage still looks good and healthy, there is no need to prune them right away. However, make sure that you don’t leave it growing for too long, or it will become entangled with the new growth, making it much harder to trim away. Be sure that you keep the slugs away from the leaves of the plant.
As hellebores are perennials, if you care for them after they’ve finished flowering, the plant will flower again the following year.
Are hellebores invasive?
Hellebore plants have the ability to self-sow, so be sure to monitor their growth in your garden as they can spread quite quickly.
Can hellebores be grown in pots?
Hellebores can be grown in pots as long as they allow for adequate draining.
A cheerful flower that adds a pop of colour, hellebore is ideal for gardeners who want to liven up their garden or create a colourful indoor potted display.