When to buy and plant Hellebores/Lenton Rose?

bevingaMarch 16, 2008


As I was looking around my yard this afternoon, I realized that the area where I have some purple-to-light-purple Lenton Roses planted has a perfect place to plant several more Lenton Roses to make a wonderful display, maybe for next year. Is it too early to buy and plant them? I don't want to start from seed; I'm too impatient for that right now!

With the late freeze we got last year in April, would it be ill-advised to go ahead and plant now, or is the cooler weather better for establishing these plants? With us getting spring rains, I was thinking it would be better to plant now, or maybe the middle of April, in order to avoid the problems I had last year with a newly planted perennial garden that suffered greatly in the drought.

If I plant different colors of Lenton Roses in the same area, will they cross-pollinate and make a different color, or will they retain their original colors?

We've been in this house for 3 1/2 years and these plants were already established when we moved here. I don't know how old they are, but I thought they were supposed to multiply, creating colonies. Mine haven't multiplied, but rather have remained the same, although they have done well. Will they multiply or do I just need to plan on filling in bare areas with additional plants?

Thanks for your help!


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Welcome! Nice to hear from a fellow Georgian, that is interested in growing Hellebores.
Now is a good time to plant Hellebores and probably the best time to purchase them, especially blooming sized plants, so that you can select the colors you want.

The Lenten Rose is a hybrid plant (Helleborus x hybridus)and it's open pollinated seedling offspring will usually be of a different color than the mother plant.
I'm surprised that you don't have numerous seedlings appearing around your plants each year. The young seedlings will have only 2 leaflets and may appear to be weeds.

Hellebores need some sunlight, preferably morning sun, to bloom well. They are not shade plants, only shade tolerant. Dappled shade also works well for them.
Be sure the planting area is well drained and adding a handful of Dolomitic Lime, mixed into the planting soil, is helpful, as they perform better in a near neutral pH soil.
Once established, usually after the first year, thay can be quite drought tolerant.
Try to remove from the pot and plant without disturbing the roots, as they resent that. When roots are disturbed, they will usually collapse upon the ground and sulk for several days, sometimes weeks, before becoming rehydrated. After planting, mulch with a couple of inches of mini pine bark nuggets, shredded leaves, leaf mold or pine needles. Keep mulch away from leaf or flower stems to permit air circulation. Water in well and in the absence of rainfall, check after a week for moisture. Insert your index finger about 3" into the soil adjacent to the plant and if it is dry, add water.
I have been growing these addictive plants for more than 20 years and I can always seem to find some that I don't have and really don't have room for, but with recent droughts, a slowly dying lawn is a great opportunity to build more raised flower beds! I detest having to mow grass anyway.
During the past few weeks, with ample rainfall and full rainbarrels, I have added more areas to some raised beds and planted about a dozen more Hellebores, along with other flowering plants, shrubs and trees.
I haven't been up to Growers Outlet this year, to see what they offer in Hellebores, but they do have a good price on them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growers Outlet

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 11:59PM
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Thanks, Georgia-rose, for your welcome! Your advice and information certainly is helpful. I am afraid that my Lenton Roses are in shade, however, right now without leaves on the trees, they are getting some sunlight. During the summer, if they get dappled sunlight, then it is very little.

This year, the blooms are more bountiful than ever before in the past three. I looked around the plants this afternoon and there are babies growing. It looks like the babies just grow up and take the place of the older, large leaves and blooms as opposed to branching out and increasing the size of the colony. Is that strange?

I am gathering from your information that when I plant an adult, those colors will probably be more vibrant than the colors of any off-shoots. I am also thinking that if I mix different colors in the same area, they might mix, making a new color altogether. Is that correct?

Sorry for the additional questions...I want these to work for me, so I am trying to absorb all the information I can!

Thanks, again,

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 6:16PM
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Your existing flowering Hellebores will expand in size each year and the flowers of the expanded plant will all be of the same color. You cannot change that. Flower colors of the seedlings, once they reach flowering size, can be and usually are different than the plant that produced the seed.
It depends upon the flower color of the plant that produced the pollen that was deposited upon the stigma(the sticky uppermost part of the pistil, which is in the center of the flower). Flying insects, mostly some type of Bee, will usually be the carrier of pollen, that collects on their bodies as they visit other flowers in seach of nectar.

Isolating the flowering plant from external vectors(by tenting with screen or plastic or enclosed greenhouse) and hand pollinating (using the pollen from the same plant to fertilize the ovules in the ovary), will usually produce look-alike flowers in the resulting seedlings. This is how producers preserve the flower colors and other desirable attributes, in their various seed strains.

It is always interesting to grow open-polliated seedlings to flowering size to determine what Mother Nature has produced. Most will be unspectacular, but you will occasionally find one that is a real jewel!
I have one very old(20+years) Hellebore, that has nondescript bicolor pink flowers, that produces predominately pure white flowered seedlings, year after year.
Good luck!
When you have a few hundred plants in your garden, you can stop. :Q), :Q), MAYBE!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 3:51PM
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Hi Georgia,
I am new to hellebores, but I love them. I have purchase 1 from the local nursery and 2 from the catalog. I was reading your pose, and I wonder if you would share some of your hellobores with me. I can pay the postage or I could trade some thing with you. I have some rooted cl America rose cutting and passion vine (lavender lady), lily of nile, I also have several of Austin rose, some antique roses;rose of sharon; angel trumpet (peach), purple datura seeds, purple irises, mexican primrose, white cala lily. let me know, my email: fromhonglee2you@hotmail.com

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 8:41AM
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I was given a potted hellebore as a gift, it's in full bloom. Outside, it's still snowy. Definitely not planting time. How do I care for it in the meantime?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 3:28AM
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i found heleborus for $5.00 in walmart in louisville ky last weekend.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 11:49PM
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Interesting info on Hellebores. I have 2 areas where I would like to plant some. One area is mostly shade with about 2 hours of dappled afternoon sun. The other is shade in the AM and about 3-4 hours of PM sun. Would the second are support the Lenton roses?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 9:14AM
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Either should be fine. Hellebores are not nearly as demanding of shady conditions as most of the literature would have you believe.

Most of the species are woodland verge, scrub or even meadow plants in their native habitats and often receive considerable sun. Others, like the Corsican hellebore, are located in open, rocky, cliffs in full sun and very dry conditions.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:10PM
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gardengal48 is right.

Hellebores are pretty hardy once they are established. In fact, I know of cases where plants in the sunlight produce more blooms than plants predominantly in the shade.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 1:44PM
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mistascott(7A VA)

Generally, Hellebores (particularly the H. orientalis hybrids) really like full sun in fall/winter/spring. That is why they do so well under deciduous trees. I wouldn't site them in direct (afternoon) summer sun in the Southern U.S., especially if you have Christmas Rose (H. niger) or one of its crosses. Christmas Rose needs more moisture and prefers less sun than H. orientalis.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 3:14PM
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