Hellebores (Lenten Rose)
Size: 1 gallon pot
Light: Part to Full Shade
The earliest perennial to bloom! These assorted doubles are tough plants.
Photos by Plants Map, Inc., Proven Winners, Yew Dell Botanical Gardens
If you don’t have any hellebores, aka Lenten Roses, in your shade garden, you’re missing out on a really wonderful, tough perennial. Hellebores send up buds in late winter, and bloom as soon as we have a few consecutive days of temps into the 40s. They easily survive late frosts, even measurable snowfall! The showy part of the “blooms” are actually modified bracts, like the flowers of poinsettias, so they remain colorful for many weeks into very late spring. Hellebores come in a wide range of colors, with single, semi-double, and double blooms. There are some popular strains, such as the ‘Pine Knot’, ‘Royal Heritage’, and ‘Wedding’ series. Since hellebores take a few years to grow to blooming size, they are usually more expensive than other perennials, but well worth it for their performance in the shade garden. Hellebores thrive even in deep shade, are remarkably disease and pest free, and voles, rabbits, and deer won’t touch them. They gradually form large clumps with dozens of blooms. Reseeding gets the gardener new plants with surprising colors!