Helleborus – Lenton Rose

helleborus blossoms

Image above courtesy Walters Gardens

Springtime in the Mountains? One day it snows, then rains and suddenly the sun is shining and outside temperatures are a balmy fifty-degrees. Then the process repeats itself! What is a gardener to do? What are the flowers to do? Well, there is one early blooming spring perennial that old man winter has no power over and it is the answer to a gardener’s need for spring color to break out of the cold drab winter shell! The name of this wondrous perennial is Helleborus or Lenton Rose.

helleborus foliage lenton rose
Helleborus foliage is attractive year-round, and blooms early in spring.

Helleborus has year around attractive foliage that persists through the deepest snow and then blooms in early spring with the Daffodils and Tulips. In most gardens Helleborus flowers around the period of Lent, the forty days of moderation before Easter, so its common name is Lenton Rose.  Helleborus flowers resemble wild Roses but there is no genetic relationship. Helleborus is a member of the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup plant family. The main differences are that Roses are edible plants, but Buttercups are toxic to humans and wildlife so Helleborus is totally vole, deer and snail/slug resistant.

The flowers of Helleborus add a wide array of colors. Some are flushed, streaked, stripped or enticingly freckled plus they deepen and change colors as the spring season progresses.

helleborus lenton rose blossoms
Helleborus blossoms in a wide array of colors.

Helleborus foliage looks faultless during the cold of winter because they are evergreen. Planting Helleborus in a shady garden or along a north facing foundation of evergreens will not only improve the appearance of evergreens but it will be enjoyed as the snow melts and all through the entire summer. Lenton Rose is so perfect that it is a custom plant for a north-facing front yard. Plant the handsome flower along a porch or walkway so it can be easily viewed. Helleborus adds to an alpine or rock gardens that are dappled with sunlight for they prefer alkaline soils. The flowers, along with the elegant evergreen foliage, looks impeccable planted in pots or containers, and a plant that is cared for will bloom for 2-3 months.

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Early Spring Care:

Because the Lenton Rose is an evergreen, you will typically not remove any foliage in the fall, but in spring, it’s good to prune back dried and dead foliage carefully to expose the new growth underneath. Scott from Spring Hill Nursery shows how easy it is to do this. It can be your first venture out into the garden in early March, as soon as the snow melts! Helleborus is a beautiful cut flower in the house as well.

Helleborus Care After Blooming:

Early summer care is important, especially if you want to preserve the bright colors of any cultivars that you have planted. Remove the seed pods to prevent self-seeding if you want to prevent the original brightly-colored blooms from being overrun by plants that start from seed. Be cautious about over-fertilizing, as this may cause leaf spot.

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