Saturday, March 12, 2011


I have been growing hellebores for maybe less than 5 years, and not many people are growing them in this area at least as far and I know. Two common names for them are Lenton rose and Christmas rose, depending on the earliness of bloom. These are great perennial plants, long-lived and tough. They also reseed to a limited degree, so after a few years you can have enough to share. They are also reported to be deer resistant, but mine have been deer fodder for the last couple years. However, losing their leaves in the winter did not affect their blooming and although all the leaves were eaten leaving just the leaf stalks behind, the flower stems sprang up beautiful and fresh.
The shiny leaves are beautiful all winter (till the deer eat them), at least here in Alabama. They are drought tolerant and survive long hot dry spells well, although they benefit from some shade when the sun is especially hot. Typically sold as shade plants, they bloom best if given some sun.
Some extracts of hellebores are used in homeopathy and traditional medicines.They hail from Europe and Asia, and in some places they grow in open fields with only short grasses to shade them. They were named Perennial Plant of the Year in 2005. They come in white, pink, purple, and even some yellows since the hybridizes got hold of them. The named varieties are great, no doubt, but the  seedlings are not to be disparaged.

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