Hellebore - An Unsung, Enduring Charmer

from Debs Garden

What is evergeen, deer resistant, thrives in shade, has flowers and comes back every year?

You could answer Andromeda (Pieris) - but it doesn't really like shade.
Perhaps you answered Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass) but it doesn't have flowers.
Daffodils are not evergreen.
Grasses, Boxwood and sedges don't meet this criteria either....

The problem free, shade loving Hellebore is the answer. They are a perfect plant for your garden.


The Perennial Plant Association's Plant of the Year for 2005, Hellebores bloom from winter to early spring across the United States, depending on zone and variety. They are hardy from Zone 5 - 9. 

They like light to moderate shade, especially an area shaded by deciduous trees, and protection from summer heat.

Hellebores sport drooping, buttercup-like flowers colors of pink, mauve, white, green, burgundy, yellow, black-purple, bi-colored, speckled and more. These flowers last into the summer, becoming greener or darker with maturity.

They make a spectacular cut flower and you can float the blooms in a shallow bowl.

HGC Winters Song


Helleborus are native to Eastern Europe and Asian and have been used in gardens for centuries. In Elizabethan times, hellebores planted near your door were believed to keep your home free of evil spirits and witches (maybe this is because every part of the plant is poisonous).


HGC Cinnamon Snow

Interestingly, hellebore flowers don't have petals but have colorful, cold hardy sepals. Sepals attract early season pollinators (honey bees, wasps) and protect the plant's reproductive parts. Unlike petals, sepals actively photosynthesize, which is why they stay intact and darken through the season.

The two most commonly seen species are known as Christmas Rose (H. niger) and Lenten Rose (H. orientalis), due to the time of year they flower and their rose-like blooms. But many are simply called hybridus, due to interbreeding.

Sunshine Farm Hellebores

Barry Glick, aka Glicksterus maximus aka The Cyber-Plantsman has devoted more than six West Virginia acres to his 'Sunshine Selections' of hellebores.  He cultivates some 68,000 hellebores (click here) on the hills of Sunshine Farm & Gardens in Renick. You can visit him in mid winter and see for yourself!



HGC Joseph Lemper

Helleborus niger 'HGC Jacob'  is Burgundy-stemmed with  pure white flowers with a pink blush in cooler weather. The flowers are slightly fragrant, numerous and long-lasting. The foliage is deep green, toothed and held on dark stems. Blooms extremely early from November through January - a true Christmas rose. Can be brought inside to enjoy as a holiday decoration and then planted outside in the spring.
HGC Pink Frost

Helleborus x ballardiae 'HGC Pink Frost' features burgundy and white buds which open to soft pink shades. Flowers mature to deep burgundy. As fresh blooms appear a multicolored effect is created with a legion of burgundy buds unfurling in antique-toned pinks. Serrated, rich green foliage with red stems are the best.
Blooms January–March.  Size: 9"–15" high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Pine Knot Farms

Pine Knot Farms in Virginia is a premier Hellebore nursery.. Every Winter they have a Hellebore Festival. If you live nearby please check it out! with speakers, tours, etc.




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