Hellebore Plants for Sale Online
Many consider Hellebores to be the royalty of the woodland garden. They are easy to grow in most areas, provided they are planted in the right conditions. There are few perennial plants that show off during the winter season like the hellebore. Hellebores play well with other plants because unlike other perennial plants hellebores take center stage when other perennials are deep in their winter slumber. Then in the summer when just about every other plant is putting on its best show hellebores are cut back and allow the other perennials to shine. Hellebores used to be reserved for high-end landscapes and public gardens but now gardeners of any skill level can enjoy these true Kings and Queens of the Woodland Garden.
Using Hellebores in the Garden
The foliage of Hellebores is evergreen, and they form a low clump of basal foliage. All hellebore flowers resemble roses in shape. The flower stems rise above the foliage, and the flowers bloom face down. They are long-blooming, with flowers that typically deepen as they age.
To better enjoy the flowers and foliage of the Hellebore, many gardeners will plant hellebores above a garden wall or in containers.
The foliage is evergreen and, depending on the type, can have deep-colored streaks or spots. Their foliage remains attractive into the early summer, and gardeners like to cut them back during this time to force the plant to produce shiny new leaves.
Hellebores pair well with many plants, including Hosta, Woodland Phlox, and ferns. The foliage of Hellebore typically needs to be cut back in the summer, and planting it with companion plants allows the cut-back foliage to be covered until they produce new leaves.
Hellebores originated in Europe and Asia. The greatest concentration of species occurs in the Balkans. These regions are known for their cool weather and dense woodlands. Hellebores prefer to grow in our region under the canopy of shade trees and large shrubs.
Hellebores are best thought of as the opposite of other perennial plants you may be used to. Hellebores choose to sleep in the summer heat and re-emerge when the weather cools down in the fall. This is to say that hellebores look their best in the winter when other herbaceous perennials are sleeping.
Hellebores make beautiful additions to patio pots or entry pots. Some of the most gorgeous holiday pots are nothing more than hellebore plants with white birch poles and red twig dogwood stems. The winter flowers and exciting foliage are welcome additions to mixed containers at entryways or along sidewalks. The mottled foliage makes a great filler in the Thriller, spiller, filler container design method.
Hellebores can also be cut and used in holiday arrangements. Both the leaves and flowers are useful for this.
Main Types of Hellebore
There are four main types of hellebores commonly available to gardeners today.
- Hellebore Orientalis is commonly called Lenten rose. The Lenten Rose is a clump-forming, late winter-blooming perennial with flower stems reaching 18 inches tall. These are evergreen, and the flowers can last up to 10 weeks. This group is by far the easiest group to grow, especially first-time growers of hellebores.
- Helleborus x hybridus is a "subset" of Helleborus orientalis as breeders have been working fast and furious in this family, and it's easier to classify the offspring under the hybridus classification. This breeding has introduced many new colors into the family, and when purchasing hellebores, it is universally understood that hellebore x hybridus is synonymous with the Orientalis group.
- Helleborus niger, commonly known as Christmas Rose or Black Rose, gets its name from the plant reliably blooming in most parts of its range during the holiday season. The flowers typically can be as large as 3 inches in diameter and can often be seen poking out of the snow in woodland gardens.
- Helleborus foetidus also known as the stinking hellebore or bears paw hellebore. Hellebore foetidus blooms in late winter into early spring and is more resilient to dry soils than its cousin, making this the best choice for dry shade gardens. The common name stinking Hellebore comes from the aroma of the crushed leaves and not the flower.
All types of hellebores require similar growing conditions and can be planted together to extend your bloom season. Some types are slow to develop and may need two seasons in the ground before they bloom.
A few other types of hellebores are not common in the trade and require much searching to find. This group's two particular members are the Helleborus argutifolius or holly-leaved Hellebore. This type can be a bit fussy in the garden, so it is not often seen for sale and Hellebore x ballardiae Pink Frost.
Caring for Hellebores
Once established, hellebores are pretty carefree and easy. Most woodland soils are nutrient-rich due to the leaves of the trees and shrubs decomposing and adding nutrients back into the ground. This means that fertilizing these plants isn't necessary, but applying organic fertilizers never hurts.
Cutting back hellebores in the summer is also a good idea. The foliage does tend to get a little tired in the heat of summer. Cutting the plant back to just above the base allows the plant to rejuvenate and produce shiny new foliage.
Hellebores prefer evenly moist soil. Do not plant hellebores in low-lying areas where water will pool for extended periods. They also do not like to grow in extremely dry soil, which tends to make them go dormant earlier in the summer.
Are hellebores Deer Resistant?
Hellebores are well-known as one of the most deer-resistant plants in the garden. All plant parts are poisonous and do not taste good when eaten. Therefore deer will not eat on them even in the barren landscape of winter.
Will Hellebores self-seed?
Seeds may produce plants that resemble one of the parent species, not the hybrid variety you have planted. Most hellebores will reseed, but the resulting seedlings may produce plants that don't "come true" to the parent plant. You can move the seedlings to another location in the late spring once they are large enough to handle and have developed true leaves. Who knows, you may be lucky enough to find your own new hybrid.