Brave Plants: Helleborus orientalis

fullsizeoutput_1f56Plants that shrug off a late snowfall and frigid temperatures

Helleborus orientalis, commonly known as hellebores or Lenten rose, have been a feature in my garden for almost 20 years. They are tough plants, thriving in shade or sun. They are unfussy about soil and will tolerate a bit of clay. Deer leave them alone. Hellebores begin to bloom in my garden around mid-March and continue well into May, an exceptionally long bloom time for a perennial. When  crisp, cloudless late winter days are followed by night temperatures into the mid-teens, hellebores show their true mettle. The flowers can be lying on the ground in the morning, yet perk up by mid-day once temperatures reach back into the thirties. Plants don’t get tougher than that!

Hellebores self-seed. The fluffy yellow stamens develop a prominent seed capsule. Allow the seed capsule to remain on the plant and the following spring you’ll see lots of babies at the feet of the mother plant. Plants that grow from seed aren’t true to type, meaning that they are not identical to the parent plant. Seedlings take about 3 years to develop into mature flowering plants. Depending on the color range you’ve started with, new plants can be cream, to greenish purple or mauve, or burgundy to a deep plum. The petals can be speckled or solid. All are beautiful. After the first year they are very easy to move and their adaptability make them perfect to move about the garden or to give away to friends.

*** Update March 2022*** A few of the hellebores in my garden have been discovered by deer. They don’t seem to love them, but they have been munched.

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