Hybrid Hellebore Is Far From Boring

Hybrid hellebore is a welcome late winter bloomer. It flowers from January to April, depending on the region, with tall flower stems arising from the center of the plant. The cup shaped, nodding or outward facing flowers last up to two months. Its foliage grows as a clump of leathery, evergreen leaves.

Thanks to their hybrid parentage (H. orientalis crossed with a number of other species), the hybrid hellebores now come in a wide range of colors, including white, cream, yellow, pink, rose, red and purple. Their often patterned with contrasting speckles and edging. Hybrid hellebores make a delightful--and deer-resistant--addition to shade or woodland gardens.


Common name: Hybrid hellebore

Botanical name: Helleborus x hybridus

Plant type: Herbaceous perennial

Zones: 5 to 9

Height: 12 to 18 inches

Family: Ranunculaceae


Growing conditions

  • Sun: Partial shade
  • Soil: Loamy, with lots of organic matter
  • Moisture: Evenly moist, well-drained; fairly drought-tolerant once established

Care

  • Mulch: 1 to 2 inches of shredded leaves, pine needles or other organic mulch
  • Pruning: Cut back any winter-damaged foliage in spring.
  • Fertilizer: Apply a layer of compost or composted manure annually.

Propagation

  • Division
  • Seeds


Pests and diseases

  • Few serious problems
  • Leaf spot and crown rot diseases occur occasionally, mainly in wet or poorly drained conditions.

Cultivars

  • Many hybrid hellebore cultivars are actually seed strains, so individual plants may vary somewhat in appearance.
  • ‘Golden Lotus’ has double yellow flowers, often with pink edging.
  • ‘Onyx Odyssey’ has double flowers in dramatic deep purple shades.
  • ‘Red Lady’ has outward-facing, rosy red flowers.
  • ‘Pink Parachutes’ has pink flowers heavily speckled with maroon.

Garden notes

  • Lenten rose, a common name, technically refers to Helleborus orientalis, but most of the plants sold in the past as H. orientalis were actually H. x hybridus, so the name Lenten rose is now sometimes used for hybrid hellebores.
  • Combine hybrid hellebores with other shade perennials, like hostas, ferns and astilbes.

All in the family

  • Hybrid hellebore is a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae).
  • There are a number of other attractive hellebores for gardens including Christmas rose (H. niger), green hellebore (H. viridis) and stinking hellebore (H. foetidus). Don’t let the latter’s name deter you—the “stink” only arises when the foliage is crushed.
  • Other popular garden plants in the buttercup family include anemones and clematis.


Where to buy