PLANT LIBRARY- Helleborus Orientalis, The Beautiful Lenten Rose

In the winter, I always look forward to plant material displays that are unexpected. One of my favorites is the Hellebore family. Helleborus Orientalis, or Lenten Rose, is an evergreen perennial that grows in zones 6-9. When winter skies and the temperature are their bleakest, Hellebores brave the elements to emerge and show off their show- stopping flowers! The flowers last a long time also. In North Carolina,  that can be anywhere from January until March. The Hellebore family is also drought tolerant, once established, low maintenance and deer resistant!

This plant has no rivals in the garden for ease of growing, beauty and their many other qualities. I also love the texture of the evergreen leaves. They are large and star shaped- accentuating the pendulous pink, white, to red and purple blooms. The blooms of some of the varieties are best appreciated when viewed from below, since they tend to be pendulous. I have planted a grouping of them in the upper bed of a retaining wall, where the flowers can best be viewed from our lower deck.

There are also some new and exciting varieties, described here:

  • Helleborus argutifolius 'HGC Snow Fever'- Gorgeous leaves flecked with white and green reveal white flowers.
  • Helleborus x ballardiae `HGC Cinnamon Snow’ - This hybrid originated in Germany. The flower centers change color from yellow to a cinnamon color as they age. The attractive dark green leaves have a red stem.
  • Helleborus x ballardiae `HGC Merlin’- This hybrid is also from Germany and boasts pink flowers that mature to a deep cranberry.
  • Helleborus x ballardiae HGC Moonlit Marble’- This hybrid from Germany has dark green, silvery veined leaves. The white blooms mature to pink.
  • Helleborus  x ericsmithii `Angel Glow’- This variety boasts silver leaves with red stems. The flowers open pink and mature to a darker pink with green accents.
  • Helleborus foetidus `Fine Feathered Friend'- This is a new introduction from Pine Knot Farms. The finely textured leaves are a very interesting addition to the garden.

Plant a few of these easily grown beauties in your garden and give your winter garden a much needed boost!

About the Author:

Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect and active in the landscape design/build industry for over 29 years. For additional inspiring project pictures, design ideas, or great garden gifts, take a look at these websites: