Heavenly Hellebore

December 18, 2022

If you happen to follow me on Instagram you should already know that I am a bit obsessed…well let’s be honest here, VERY obsessed with hellebore. I am often asked what is my favorite flower and while I love, love, love hydrangea, garden roses, sweet peas, peonies, hyacinth etc, I have to say the hellebore wins hands down. And I really can’t say why. It is something visceral. It is like my love for Italy. Even before I ever had the chance to visit, I just loved it. For as long as I can remember, every time I saw photos, a movie or read a book that took place in Italy, I loved it. It just touched my soul. The same goes for hellebore.


While primarily European natives, growing in open meadows in Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and even China, they can now be found in gardens all over the US.


Also known as Lenten roses, these popular perennials come in wide range of colors: white, pale green, yellow, pink, apricot, purple and almost black. They can also have beautiful picotee edges or veining and can have spotting, speckles, stripes or a dark center.


I consider hellebores nature’s winter gift. They usually start blooming in February (though this year they are already blooming here in the Pacific Northwest) long before the daffodils and are the perfect cure for your long winter blues.


For all you gardener’s, hellebores prefer to grow in shady spots, like borders of the garden. They pair well with other shade-lovers like ferns and hostas. Give hellebores slightly moist, well-drained soil with organic matter. These strong growers can tolerate drought and are deer and snail resistant.


While the flowers are non-fragrant, there is one variety, Helleborus foetidus,  that is known as the "stinking hellebore". To quote Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery, “While folk soften expect smelly flowers, the only part of the plant that is fetid are the leaves, which leave an unpleasant odor on your hands if you fondle your Hellebores too much.” So folks, please don’t fondle your hellebores!


The Infamous Stinking Hellebore

I LOVE them as cut flowers and can’t wait for them to become available at the flower market.

In my opinion they make any arrangement look luxe and special. Same goes for bridal bouquets and boutonnieres.

As cut flowers they can have a long vase life but if they are cut too soon, they tend to wilt. Another way to enjoy them indoors is to float the blooms in a bowl of water.

If you decide to cut some from your garden make sure to give them some time on the plant to mature a bit before cutting. One method I have read about to help keep them from wilting is to sear the stalks in boiling water before arranging them in a vase of cool water. If they do wilt you can slit the base of the stem and submerge them in a vase of warm water up to their necks.

Another way to enjoy them indoors is to purchase a plant from the nursey or from us here at Botanica and place it is a cool bright spot in your home. They drink lots of water so be sure to keep an eye on them so they don't wilt. After they are done blooming you can plant them in your garden for years of enjoyment. Order one here.

Let your obsession begin!