What do you visualize when you think of winter and your yard? Do the terms “dark, dismal, or drab” come to mind? For us, yard work in the winter entails picking up millions (yes, millions) of dead leaves, fir needles, and pine cones from the huge, towering trees that encircle our backyard. Everything in our yard looks gray and sad. Furthermore, since our puppy will eat just about everything in sight, picking up this debris is a daily practice for us. Luckily, our outdoor chores have recently become a lot more enjoyable this January with the arrival of the familiar, old winter bloomer, the Hellebore.
Hello to you, Hellebore! Nice to see you again!
When everything is dark, cold and leafless, this little pop of color can make a world of difference to an otherwise stark landscape. So, what is a Hellebore? Where are they native? Read on to learn about the common characteristics of the Hellebore and even a few fun facts about this underappreciated, winter bloomer.
*The above pictures are Burpee affiliate links.
Characteristics of the Hellebore
|Common/Trade Name||Hellebore (in the Ranunculaceae Family)|
|Botanical/Scientific Name||Helleborus argutifolius (Corsican Hellebore) OR hybrids|
|Zones||- Sunset – 3b-9/14-24 OR 2b-10/14-24|
- USDA – 4a OR 4b, depending of species.
|General Information||- Plant in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. |
- They don't like to be transplanted or moved frequently, as they can take up to 2+ years to flower again.
- Not damaged by deer or rodents.
|Native Environment||Europe and Eastern Europe.|
|Mature Height/Width||Corsican- 2-3 ft tall/wide OR Hybrids- 1 ft tall/wide.|
|Bloom Time||Winter into Spring|
|Flower Colors||Soft green, white, pink, yellow, red, purple, or cream.|
|Number of Species||At least 12, maybe more.|
|Sun Exposure||Partial to Full Shade|
|Fertilize?||Yes, once or twice a year|
|Plant Spacing||2-3 ft apart for Corsican, 1 ft apart for Hybrids|
|Suggested Companion Plant/s||Plant under high branching trees, on the north or east side of walls or in garden beds.|
|Maintenance Level||Low – keep spent/dead flowers cleaned up, along with regular watering.|
|Poisonous to Pets?||Yes, the entire plant and all plant parts, so don't let your pets eat any pieces of this plant.|
|Edible for Humans?||No, as it can induce vomiting and other negative reactions.|
|Fun (or historical) Facts||- The Hellebore varieties, "Christmas Rose" and "Lenten Rose" are not genetically related to a rose. |
- Hellebores can be divided into two different distinct groups; those with stems and those without.
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Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed learning about the Hellebore, our Plant Profile for the month of January. For more about winter gardening, listen to our podcasts or check out our post about how to prune in the winter. Make sure to watch for next week’s blog post where we will review one of our favorite garden nurseries in the Pacific Northwest, Watson’s Nursery. They definitely sell Hellebores there.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments anytime, we would love to help.
~ Sean and Allison
What is your favorite winter garden bloomer?
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