The most popular and easiest to grow are the
Oriental Hybrid Hellebores (Hellebore hybridus). Their common
name is Lenten Rose because they bloom around the beginning of
lent. They tolerate almost full sun to almost full shade,
although dense shade may reduce flower production. Generally
they enjoy slightly neutral to acidic soils and will tolerate
dry shade. Don’t plant them in soils that are too wet as it may
encourage rot. When planting hellebores make sure the crown is
just covered by soil. As with peonies, planting too deeply also
inhibits flower production. Applications of well-rotted manure,
leaf compost and lime encourage strong growth and flowering.
They will forgive you if you forget for a few years.
To better view the flowers, remove the past
years foliage in late January or early February before the buds
emerge to avoid damaging them. Don’t throw the old leaves in the
compost heap because it takes more than a year for them to
Propagation is easy. They will self sow if
happy. You may want to discourage this tendency by cutting off
the seedpods. This not only keeps the garden tidy but also
prevents seeds from sowing into crowns of other plants.
Controlled crosses are best to maintain type and color. Although
you don’t have to regularly divide them, it’s the best method
for creating an exact duplicate of the parent.
I divide in spring or late summer. Late
summer is best since flower buds form in early summer. Simply
divide the crown and keep it watered until they become
established. (more text