Hellebores

Hellebores
by Cherie Luke
Hellebores, (helleborus spp.) is a long lived perennial in the buttercup, Ranunclaceae,
family. About 20 species belong to this genus.  Hellebores have leathery, usually dark green leaves, divided into lobes on leaflets that are often toothed. The flowers come in a wide range of colors including black, yellow, cream, purple, green, red, and rose. The flowers are not true petals, but petal-like sepals.
Hellebore Leaves
Plant hellebores in light to full shade with rich evenly moist, well drained soil. They are
mildly drought tolerant once established. A sheltered area protected from winter winds
will help keep evergreen foliage looking best. You should remove any dead foliage
around January if not covered in snow.

Hellebores are deep rooted and do well when planted in deeply dug holes with a yearly
top dressing of compost, being careful not to bury the crown.  They do not need regular dividing for the health of the plant but if you want to divide or move one it is best to do it in September or October.

All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested, and the sap from bruised leaves can
cause a skin rash in some people.

Hellebore Flower
Hellebores are the first plants to bloom in my garden each year around mid March.
They are deer and rabbit resistant and can be an early source of nectar for bees. Many
of the new varieties have outward facing flowers so they can be enjoyed more easily by
the gardener, but hellebores with downward facing flowers are better able to keep the
plants nectar dry.

Most are hardy in zones 4-9 depending on the particular species.
For more information check out Perennial Gardening Fact Sheet: Herbaceous
Perennials – 7.405 and Plant Talk 1017, Perennials: When and How to Plant hellebores poisonous plants shade tolerant winter plant

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