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Helleborus orientalis  February - 'Hellebore or Lenten Rose'

The Helleborus orientalis ( Hellebore ) is one of the showier of the family of Hellebores.

Whilst it flowers tend to hang down, many like this one are quite happy to face up to life. The Helleborus is a great hardy perennial for colour in later winter - early spring , and they are relatively simple to grow. Part sun or dappled shade is best  - but happy almost anywhere.

 They are happiest in a heavy, neutral to alkaline soil, and benefit from a mulch of leaf mould annually in the autumn. Does just as well in shade as in sun.

Closeup image of helleboarus orientalis - cerise redThe foliage on the Helleborus orientalis types is generally attractive - single palmate leaves on top of individual stems.

More often than not, to flowers are pendulous, so have to be gently lifted to see some of the attractive markings on some varieties. They are becoming a 'collector's item, almost to the exclusion of other plants for some gardeners - such is their appeal and wide range of colours and forms.  Because of the drooping nature of the flowers, they are very attractive in a raised or walled bed, where the beauty can be more easily seen.

If you are going to photograph Helleborus - be prepared to get your knees damp!

Helleborus orientalis - Pink Form

They can also be planted as specimens in large containers. This way they can be moved nearer to the house for viewing - for those who do not like to brave the elements at that time of year. (February March.)

Pink speckled Helleborus orientalis flower Creamy white flowers of helleborus orientalis Red freckles on white hellebore flowers Pink and white nodding flowers on Hellebore orientalis Deepes red/maroon flowers of Helleborus orientalis
Some of the wide colour ranges to be found in Helleborus orientalis. Pure white through to deepest burgundy red, with some 'almost ' laying claim to being 'black'!

Propagation of Hellebores

Helleborus orientalis are great at 'multiplying' themselves. Small seedlings often appear at the foot of - or near to - the parent plant in early summer onwards. Carefully lift the individual plants , and grow on in a nursery bed - and then pick the best of the assorted colours you are sure to see - from individual plants. Otherwise, just let the Hellebores 'naturalise' themselves where the seedlings materialise, and divide as and when required in early spring or late summer.

Problems with Hellebores

There are few problems with Helleborus orientalis that I have come across. Snails enjoy a feast, and sometimes there is a little leaf spot to contend with.

Planting Position

Sun or shade, and whilst they are happiest in rich loam, I have photographed them and grown them in a wide range of growing conditions. The most extreme situation I have seen them 'thriving' in, was below the dense shade canopy of a Cedar tree at Great Comp Garden in Kent. In the summer, I have seen them lying down - seemingly dead from the drought conditions, and then happily photographed them the following spring, when they are back to norm! That's how hardy the Helleborus orientalis are. Plant them where you will.


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