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Hellebores: winter in bloom

When can hellebores be planted or divided?

Hellebores can be a nice surprise in the garden in late winter, when everything else out there is still asleep. They are tough plants with evergreen foliage and flowers that bloom in winter and last well into spring. Even when they are blooming, they are not fazed by frost or below-freezing temperatures, and they will emerge from a mantle of snow bright and fresh as when they bloomed.

You can plant hellebores in spring or fall. They can be dug up and divided, but they may take a year or two to get re-established. Sometimes they self-sow, and the young seedlings can be dug up and transplanted in spring.

Gardeners often think of them as shade-loving plants, but they can also do well in sunny areas. They are happiest in well-drained, alkaline soil with plenty of organic matter. Southern Living Garden Book suggests fertilizing once or twice a year.

Helleborus is the botanical name. H. orientalis is often called by its common name, Lenten rose, but there are several varieties and hybrids that have different traits. To see photos of different varieties, check out the online resource hellebores.org.

 

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