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Darrell Blackwelder: Hellebores for winter interest

Many daffodil plantings are blooming much earlier this spring because of our unusual warm weather; however, there are other landscape materials providing non-traditional blooms for winter interest.

Lenten rose (H. orientalis) which normally blooms in the early spring is now in bloom across the county.

There are more than 20 species of winter blooming hellebores that adapt and grow well in our area.
According to landscape specialists, one cultivar, the Christmas rose, flowers near the Christmas holidays when planted in well protected areas.

Many hybrid varieties are available with a large assortment of colors, bloom size and bloom periods. Helleborus plants are not difficult to grow, however they are rather slow to become established. The winter bloomer needs a shady location with good soil to reach its best blooming potential.

The plants can be divided in late spring or early fall when they become overgrown. Hellebores are recommended as shade plants; however, a winter sunlight is beneficial to the plants’ overall health. Fungal diseases are a major problem in poorly drained areas. All parts of all Hellebores are poisonous if ingested.

Go to http://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/helleborus-orientalis/ for more detailed information.

Darrell Blackwelder deblackw@ncsu.edu is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.

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