By Ellyn Pelikan, Sonoma County Master Gardener
Sometimes referred to as the Christmas or Lenten rose, hellebores are shining stars of the winter garden. Perennial members of the family Ranunculaceae, these tough, hardy, long-lived plants add much color to the drab winterscape.
Hellebores love deep, fertile, well-drained, alkaline soil, dappled shade and occasional water once established. Try them massed in an herbaceous boarder, between deciduous shrubs and under trees. They will reward you for many years to come.
A few to try!
H.argutifolius (Corsican hellebore) Robust plant, erect or sprawling, 2-3’ tall with blue green sharply divided leaves and pale green cup shaped flowers. Best varieties are ‘Janet Starnes’ or ‘Pacific Frost’
H.niger (Christmas Rose) This is a traditional cottage garden plant. Elegant 1’ tall and wide plant, blooms Christmas to spring. Glorious dark green leaves divided into seven to nine lobes. White clusters of delicate flowers turn pinkish with age. New double pink hybrids are now available. Needs more shade than other hellebores. Excellent cut flower.
H.orientalis (Lenten rose) Basal leaves with 5-11 sharply toothed leaves, with no obvious stems. Can be 2-3’ tall and wide. Blooms late winter to spring. Flowers are 2-4’ wide and range in color from pinks, greens, creams, purples, many are spotted with deep purple depending on hybrid. Easy to transplant and self sows readily.