Lenten roses in bloom mean spring is nearly here

At long last, the Lenten roses (Helleborus orientalis) are blooming. It seemed they would stay in bud forever.

helleborus orientalis

helleborus orientalis

helleborus orientalis

It’s hard not to adore these flowers. They bloom for me from February through late May, have evergreen foliage, and are as tough as my old biology teacher. They grow everywhere except in the baking sun and are quite happy in the dry clay at the feet of my post oaks and thirsty Japanese maples. They represent a much better ground cover choice than English ivy, which is invasive here. I give my hellebores a quick drink when I plant them and then leave them to it, revisiting them only to trim back dead foliage once a year and occasionally move their seedlings about.

They’re pricey at the garden center, so see if you can’t find a fellow gardener to share a flowering clump. Hellebores flower three years after starting from seed, but the ground cover effects begin immediately.

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4 thoughts on “Lenten roses in bloom mean spring is nearly here

  1. If you don’t rush to deadhead your plants (and they look good for many weeks), they may self-seed. I’ve noticed quite a few seedlings around my original plants. Once you recognize them, you can dig them up, grow them on in pots and use them to expand your plantings. Or give them to deserving fellow gardeners. And they do well in dry shade (in my case under Norway maples). I garden in Zone 8 here on the fortunate West Coast.

    • Yes, indeed! They reseed generously, but in my experience, not to the point of being a nuisance.

      If you are into seed collecting, it is better to sow fresh hellebore seed immediately than to let it sit around. I have had such luck with letting Mother Nature do her work that I haven’t seen a need to save the seed.

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