University of Maryland Extension

Hellebore: A winter to spring bloomer

Article and Photos by Ginny Rosenkranz, Extension Educator, University of Maryland Extension

Hellebores, also known as Lenten rose and Christmas rose, are one of the early spring blooming garden plants to enjoy. Hellebores are low growing evergreen herbaceous perennials that bloom winter through spring. The serrated leaves are designed to handle the coldest weather. They have a thick almost leathery texture and are palmately arranged. The old fashioned plants have nodding flowers that are best viewed from a very close distance. The newer cultivars have upright flowers that can be viewed close-up or from the cozy distance of a warm room.

Hellebores thrive in moist shady areas with well drained loamy soils and a neutral pH, but can handle dry shade after they are well established. Morning sunlight will encourage the plant to produce more flowers than plants grown in deeper shade. This hardy plant will thrive in USDA zones 4-9. Hellebores are often free seeding and can become a minor pest. Root rot can become a problem if the soils are not well drained.

Helleborus Gold Collection HGC Pink FrostOne of the cultivars from the Helleborus Gold Collection®, ‘HGC Pink Frost’, is an early bloomer that grows 12-14 inches tall and 24 inches wide. It needs part to full shade and rich, moist, well drained soils. The buds are a deep burgundy which open to a 2-toned flower, white on the inside and dark pink on the outside, with bright yellow green stamens as a counterpoint. As the flowers mature, the inside of the flowers darken from white to pink to a soft burgundy color.

Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection Cinnamon SnowAnother Gold Collection hellebore is Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® Cinnamon Snow. Cinnamon Snow has dark evergreen leaves that deer do not like to eat. The leaves can be pruned off if they are winter burned to show off the beautiful flowers. Cinnamon Snow flowers (it’s the sepals that are showy on a hellebore) start out pure white to pale yellow and mature to a cinnamon pink color. It grows 15-18 inches tall and 24 inches wide.

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