Hellebore – Early Colour in Your Garden

Growing the Hellebore

Botanical  Name: Hellebore. Common Name: Christmas Rose , Lenten Rose.

The hellebore usually  begins to flower in mid January and continues through the spring. The leaves are evergreen and the flowering season obviously begins with the Christmas Rose and then continues with the Lenten Rose which are usually larger and more showy.  It does look a bit like a wild rose with its protruding  stamens but many flowers could be called a rose for that matter, I think the name comes from a different resemblance to the rose – the number of petals, although we are now so used to enjoying roses with dozens of petals; original roses and all flowers in the rosacea family (like apple trees), bear flowers with just 5 petals (and 5 stamens).

Double pink hellebore with dark venation
Double pink hellebore with dark venation

Older  text books will show only a couple of varieties but recently the hellebore has gained popularity with plant enthusiasts and they have hybridised many varieties and introduced many fantastic new ones – double ones and speckled ones . The tallest hellebore  is Helleborous argutifilious that reaches a height of 90 cm and bears green flowers but most are between 15 and 35 cm.. I used to have a black (deep purple) variety, but it died from neglect – that is part of the problem with hellebore – by the time the summer comes when we are busy feeding the garden plants  – we hardly notice them and forget to feed them, they will still come up the next year but after  a few years of neglect they give up, and deservedly  so!

Guide to buying and planting the hellibore;

Many varieties can be bought in flower at this time of the year and can be immediately sunk into the garden, the frost and snow will do them no harm and they prefer to be planted in dappled shade. Most varieties prefer an alkaline soil so they will thank you for putting a bit of hydrated lime in the planting hole.

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