Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials

Hellebores: Perennial Plant of the Year

by Charlie Nardozzi


The Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus) has been making quite a splash recently. There are many new varieties available, and more gardeners are discovering the delights of this early-blooming, hardy perennial. It is no wonder the Perennial Plant Association has named the hellebore their Plant of the Year for 2005.

Hellebores are low-growing (1 to 2 feet tall), shade-loving evergreens that are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9. They are often the first perennials to bloom in the garden, sometimes while snow is still on the ground. The single or double flowers range in color from white to pink to red, and last up to two months, depending on the weather. After the flowers fade, the seedpods create an attractive effect, and the leaves look like coarse, leathery umbrellas.

Hellebores grow best in well-drained, humus-rich soils. In cooler areas, they can stand more sun than in hot areas. They naturalize well and are good companions for hepatica and epimediums.

For more on the lenten rose, go to the Perennial Plant Association Web site.

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