It is always a challenge to find colour for the garden in winter. Hellebores fit that category, with their winter flowers blooming to remind us that Spring will not be too far away.
Hellebores grow well in our area and are best suited to cool, elevated regions. Hellebores are part of the Ranunculaceae family. They are native to regions of Europe and Asia and for the green thumbs individual plants can live for up to 40 years. In the Northern Hemisphere they are known as a Christmas Rose but in Australia we refer to them as a Winter Rose. They are perennials and largely evergreen with strong, leathery leaves which provides a steady foundation throughout the year for shady garden displays. They are available in a host of colours ranging from apricot, yellows and greens through to soft and deep shades of pink, maroon and even deep, dark plums, slate greys and cream to crisp whites. In addition, petals may be spotted or picoteed (narrow band of colour on edge of petals) whilst others may feature double petals for a ruffled, romantic appearance.
There are many varieties of Hellebores to choose from but the most common species grown in Australia is Helleborus orientalis. This is a shorter variety with a beautiful flower.
Many hellebores are grown from seed which can offer variations from one plant to another, Hellebores such as Ivory Prince, however, is grown from tissue culture which guarantees that each and every plant will present consistent flower colour, habit and growth characteristics ensuring desired effects when mass planting.
Hellebores are easy to grow, frost hardy and can withstand low water conditions making them ideal for planting under trees where few other plants can compete. They are mainly grown in dappled shade but they can tolerate a good deal of sunlight in a more open garden but will require mulching. They are quite tolerant of many well draining soil types. I have a neutral to alkaline soil in my garden but have mixed an organic garden mix with my soil and mulched them with leaf mulch. With sandy soil it’s important to add mulch and compost and feed in early Spring with a slow release fertiliser. If you have your hellebores in a container or pot then an addition of slow release fertiliser will be required more regularly.
Buds are just starting to form on my hellebores at home. My favourites are Penny’s Pink, Winter Sunshine, Joy Bouquet and of course Ivory Prince. They are among the most delightful garden plants. Plant them in the garden to get the most fantastic display during winter. If you plant a few plants now, they’ll reward you with wonderful flowers over many, many years.
These stunning varieties produce masses of flowers held aloft over rich green foliage. Why not create a garden bed of exquisite elegance that you can enjoy for years to come. If you purchase a pot you can admire the blossoms indoors for up to six weeks in a well lit room and then pop them in the garden or in a container.