One of the featured stars of many late winter-early springs gardens are Hellebores and right now is a great time to find an assortment of beautiful varieties in nurseries. Gardening guru Ciscoe Morris gives us a few tips for planting and caring for them:

Hellebores are the stars of the late winter/early spring garden. The plants are long lived and the flowers are gorgeous and long lasting. Often referred to as Christmas and Lenten rose, there are all sorts of Hellebores, and incredible new varieties are showing up on Nursery shelves right now.

Hellebores are usually labeled as shade plants, but most can take full-sun as long as they receive adequate water, especially during the first season after planting. Once established most hellebores are drought resistant.

Deer, rabbits and voles don't bother them. Slugs are rarely a serious problem.

On the Oriental hybrid types (Lenten rose) cut off the old foliage as soon as new leaves begin to form. This can happen as soon as around Christmas time. This allows the flowers to show up much better, and helps prevent botrytis, a fungus disease that can turn leaves and flowers black, eventually turning into ugly brown spots. Hellebores never need dividing, but the Oriental types can be divided in fall. It takes a year for the plants to recover, but it's a good way to get new plants. They also seed around in the garden, but they usually aren't aggressive seeders.

If botrytis disease becomes a problem put a layer of lime or marble chips under the plant. Manufactures Mineral Co. sells lime chips. The address is 1215 Monster Rd SW Renton, WA 98057. Phone is (425) 228-2120.

Other types of hellebores such as Helleborus argutifolius feature leathery attractive evergreen leaves. Cut to new, emerging foliage when the old leaves and stems look ratty.

Plant hellebores along walks where visitors will be able to see and appreciate the beautiful flowers and foliage up close.

The following are hellebores that Ciscoe used in this segment:

  • Golden Sunrise - Golden foliage in Winter - Canary yellow, red veined flowers
  • Helleborus 'Cinnamon Snow' - Upright caramel flowers fade to ivory
  • H. 'Anna's Red' - brightest red flower of any Helleborus
  • H. 'Snow Fever' - Only Hellebore with variegated evergreen foliage - cream colored flowers in spring
  • H. 'Onyx Odyssey' - Double dark red/purple flowers to die for

Ciscoe Save Meon New Day Northwest is brought to you by Bark and Garden Center in Olympia

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