Hellebore / Lenten rose
- Position: partial shade or full sun
- Soil: humus-rich, well-drained soil
- Flowering period: January to April
- Height: 40-60 cm
- Foliage: evergreen
- Hardiness: fully hardy
Helleborus, commonly known as Lenten rose, Christmas rose, is a great plant for adding colour to the winter garden when little else is growing. This perennial flowers from late January until April. The lovely flowers are also a good source of pollen for insects.
Helleborus x hybridus is one of the best known of all hellebore varieties and for good reason. It has the most fantastic cup-shaped flowers varying from white, pink, deep red, apricot, yellow, blackish-purple, often spotted or veined. The dark green leaves are also attractive. Helleborus x hybridus is easy to grow and will do best in humus-rich, well-drained soil in partial shade but tolerate sun.
Helleborus niger bears gorgeous white flowers above dark green, leathery foliage. The flowers fade to yellow-olive-green as they age. This variety performs best in humus-rich, well-drained soil and likes a sheltered position in partial shade.
When should you cut back the leaves of Helleborus x hybridus / Helleborus niger. Cut off ugly or damaged leaves right back at the base of the plant at the end of January or in early February. New fresh leaves will appear again in early spring.
Should Helleborus x hybridus/ Helleborus niger be cut back after flowering. Cut back the faded flower stems after flowering. If you want to increase the number of plants, don’t cut off the faded flowers, after flowering. Seed heads will develop. When these mature, seeds will scatter on the surrounding soil. Then new hellebore seedlings emerge near the mother plant. Leave the young seedlings in the ground, so they can develop into mature plants. Alternatively, dig the seedlings up when they are large enough to handle and pot them up individually.
Planting tips. Helleborus likes humus-rich soil, well-drained soil. Add plenty of garden compost or leaf mould to soil before planting. Mulch the plant once a year. Apply a layer of 5cm of organic matter around the base of the plant each autumn.
Helleborus x hybridus can be divided to reduce the size of the plant. Dig up the entire clump and divide the plant with a sharp knife into three pieces. Replant the divided parts and water thoroughly. Do this job in early autumn or after flowering in spring.
Many hellebores can be affected by hellebore leaf spot, especially Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose). What can you do about it.