Thursday, February 21, 2008

Plant of the Month-February 08

Hellebores are my choice for Plant of the Month for February. I know I already posted a picture of them before, and I hate reusing the same picture-so these are new pictures! I can cheat a little can't I?

Hellebores just have to be the choice for plant of the month. Not because they are beautiful and bloom at a time little else is blooming, but because they bloom for about five months! Yes, it is true. I have had these two hellebores, aka Helleborus x hybridis, in my garden for about two years. Last year they were still blooming in May and I just couldn't believe it. I don't know of any other perennial in middle Tennessee with such a long period of bloom.

When I first heard of hellebores was when the Perennial Plant Association chose it as their 2005 Plant of the Year. I knew I had to have some. I purchased some Christmas roses from mail order and promptly planted them. They never grew. Christmas rose is Helleborus niger, and is not the same as Helleborus x hybridis, aka Lenten Rose.

According to the Perennial Plant Society's website found at:, hellebores known as lenten roses used to be called Helleborus orientalis. Until researching them I still referred to them by their former name. Oops.

Also, according to the Perennial Plant Association's website, hellebores should be grown in humus rich soil. Grown in the north, hellebores can probably withstand full sun and are drought tolerant. In the south they do best grown in the shade of deciduous trees. I have mine growing on the north side of my home within ten feet of a cedar tree. They share the space with heucheras, daffodils, arum italicum, and hydrangeas. I did not have to water the hellebores last summer at all. Though, to be fair, they may have received some water when I watered the adjacent 'Limelight' hydrangea. I just love these plants. Another benefit of the hellebore is that it is evergreen and deer don't seem to want to eat them. You want to cut back the foliage prior to it growing its flowers in late January to early February.

Propagation can be done from seed, though hellebores do hybridize freely, so the off spring may not look like the parent plant. When I purchased my potted hellebores off from the shelf at Wal-Mart, I looked very hard to find some with seeds. The more the better. I am anxiously awaiting baby hellebores and hope my three clumps grow very big. You can divide established clumps, but recovery time is long and is generally not recommended. I have not tried it and we all know how I like to divide. I am waiting for the seedlings as it seems most folks increase their inventory in this way.

The first two pictures are of different clumps of what looks to be the same type of plant. The third picture is of a different hellebore. I am not sure of the cultivar though I may have a tag somewhere. I purchased it from Hosta Haven ( in Hopkinsville last fall. (Expect a post on Hosta Haven, but for now check out their website if you have never heard of Hosta Haven) The foliage of this last hellebore is unique in that it is finer cut and holds up better to the winter weather. I hope the flowers surprise me pleasantly by being different from the other two as well.

in the garden....


  1. Tina,

    I have hellebores that seem happy (flower and reproduce) in soil that probably needed to be amended with some nice compost. They benefit from some water in the summer.


  2. gail, hellebores do so well here-even in poor soil. glad they work for you too!

  3. That does seem like a long time to be blooming --defintely my kind of flower:) I like the pretty part when the flowers are blooming.
    So far we've been spared of the major ice --not so lucky up in Northern Christian County --lots of slick ice. Thanks Tina for telling us about the moon --we were a sight on the deck looking up at it last night. The kids enjoyed it --not only are you the flower lady but also the astronomer for us:) Enjoy your day and give Baby a hug for Jacob.

  4. Hello to everyone.

    Sorry about all the rain and ice in TN and GA. It is very nice here and has been all week but it will end tomorrow when we are to get 6 inches of snow. I won't get that here on the coast but no doubt Dawn with Peaches will get clobbered in the mountains. The skiers and snowboarders will be happy.

  5. I just hauled 10 wheel barrels of gravel (that I stole from the boat shed) to the new mower shed! It was a soggy mess to walk in the yard with heavy load. Yuck, I need some rubber booties! We only have the frame up for the shed but I wanted to give us a nice neat work area instead of mud to stand in while working. Rain is dampening the work progress so this is yet another project that will be put on hold due to Mother Nature not following our schedule... Hey, at least it is not ice and snow I am dealing with…

    Tina, I just got your message on my cell phone when I ran to town for wood screws this morning! Funny thing, I never use the thing or have it on unless I am going into town and away from the house. But I read about the eclipse in the morning paper yesterday so we knew to look for it. Thanks though…

  6. We saw the eclipes up here, it was reddish color, then we saw it going 1/2 and 1/2 thur the skylights. Really neat.
    Okay, I missed the noontime new, 6 more inches of snow. Oh boy.

  7. anonymous, i am surprised you don't have any hellebores at the house. need to remedy that!

    did you all get to see the lunar eclipse? wasn't sure about the clouds. it was crystal clear in nashville. and your welcomed. i always call folks but it surprised me how many i called last year that are no longer around.

    hey mom, no rain or ice where i live. you heard anonymous say it is in kentucky. we here on teh border seem to be just below the magic line because the weatherman always cuts off weather on the kentucky/tennessee border. worked this time. have fun with your snow!

    skeeter, you were working ever so hard! i know you will be happy when it is done. got the pics. big tree and the saint did a good job cutting it down safely. tell him i said good job!

    guess what i bought at lowes today? yup, 7 ebbinger's silverberries. i see what you mean about the berries. i never saw them before. but it is a bonus. i am doing like you. planting in the shade next to a chain link. hope they grow fast. i bought one gallon. i was so happy. always like it when it works out in a timely manner. now if i could just find some crepes....and choose a clematis, i'll be golden as far as big planting.

    dawn with peaches, the eclipse was so cool. i was driving and saw the moon was not quite full so i looked again, hard. then i realized. i shouldn't have been driving and looking:) it was cool.

  8. my job hunt is going well. one more step and we'll be looking pretty. mr. fix-it can't wait. i'll will really be busy then, just a head's up all!

  9. Tina, I am so glad to hear your job hunting is moving along. And, yes we saw the moon perfectly last night from the deck. We were a sight because I had a bunch of squealing happy kids --2 were in bed and I got them up to see, lol. It sure was cold but what a pretty sight --I did try to snap two pictures --not sure how they will turn out but I tried:) And, I was so thrilled that the snow stopped on the stateline --I did enjoy that extra hour this morning for moving slow kids:) Have a good night! Hi Jean --I hope you don't get too much snow. And, Skeeter wow you have got to be exhausted --I'm sure you are happy though --one step closer right:) Dawn with peaches --you keep telling the snow to stay up there and when I need to see some serious snow I'll look at the picture you posted. When does it usually start to melt up there? In PA when I was growing up it was like March/April and we still had the ugly snow as we called it --the hardened black snow/ice that froze and thawed. We will all have spring soon --I can't wait!

  10. We have ugly snow clear into April (reminds me about the air pollution) I doesn't all go until first wk of May.While it is still blackened and frozen we have mucho flooding and people start shedding coats around 50 degrees. Thats warm to us, we wear sweatshirts and under shirts, like we are kidding ourselves. Ha!