Tell me why . . .

More people don’t plant hellebores?

Helleborus x hybridus 'Phoebe' from Heronswood. I've had her for several seasons. She is not a fast grower, but still very beautiful. You can still buy them from Heronswood.

I can’t imagine a spring without hellebores. They cheer me by blooming early and laughing at rain and snow. Gray skies don’t make them gloomy, and sunshine back lights them with an inner glow. Why aren’t people racing to buy a plant which blooms from February through the beginning of April and sometimes beyond?

Helleborus x hybridus Ballerina Mix, a seed strain still available at TLC Nursery in OKC or through Big Dipper Farm.

Is it because you must stand on your head to take a photo or two?

That’s still not a good excuse.

Helleborus 'Red Lady which can be found a lot of places on the Internet. They don't show up as well as some of the lighter colors, but they are beautiful when back-lit from the sun so place them to take advantage of their inner beauty.

Now, there are even hellebores for you more finicky photographers and gardeners too. They stand up tall with blooms held high as if to say, “Bring it.”

H. Brandywine Strain in the yellow variation. This seed strain developed by David Culp is being offered by North Creek Nurseries. I bought mine locally.

So, why don’t you?

Another beautiful plant of the Brandywine seed strain. I love these because I only planted them last year, and they've doubled in size.

The last two photos are from the Brandywine seed strain which can be bought locally at TLC Nursery. By the way, I never get a single, blessed, free thing from TLC, but they are about the only hellebore show in town.

Lowe’s too has hellebores, and though their supply is limited, I bought one in a light pink because it had dark pink stems, an interesting feature. I’m writing this at night, and the tag is out in the dark. I love you all, but I am not going out there to find it so I don’t remember the cultivar right now.

Buy hellebores now while they’re in bloom. Most hellebores come from a few different seed strains, and this makes them highly variant with some strains showing doubles, picotee edges and highly variable colors.  Unless they are tissue cultured like ‘Blue Lady’ and the other ladies of the same group, you need to see them to get the bloom you want. Plus, I grow both the ‘Blue Lady’ and the ‘Red Lady,’ and they are very similar with nearly the only difference being that one blooms quicker than the other. That may simply be because of placement in the garden and micro-climates though.

Also, although I love ebony purple and burgundy red flowers, they don’t show up well against the dark earth of spring. I’ve come to especially enjoy yellow blooms against the green leaves.

Helleborus 'Blue Lady' which looks a lot like 'Red Lady.'

As an aside, hellebores are often shown in stained glass windows at churches, especially those which are Catholic. Depending upon the scene depicted in the window, they can be either Helleborus niger, the Christmas rose or H. orientalis, the Lenten rose.

Most of the ones I grow are hybrids. Some are tissue cultured. Some are not. All like soil which is dry in winter. If happy, they will spread their seed around like . . . Let’s put it this way. They are quite promiscuous when happy, and such behavior doesn’t even involve spring break or alcohol.

You “feel me?”

Run to the store and buy a hellebore for your garden. No, buy three. You’ll thank me later.



  1. bonnie says:

    When the grape hyacinths popped up I said, “Ooh. I have to move you!” but a month later their abundances forces me to walk carefully in the yard. I’ll leave them for next year they will be a near blanket across the yard. How gorgeous they are! I’m out there on my hands and knees weeding the ground cover in an attempt to minimize the competition.

    Thanks for the tip on the tomato plants. I’ll just wait and baby them in their pots. I love your garden!

  2. Les says:

    If more people planted hellebores, would they still be so special?

  3. Cyndy says:

    More more more of the hellebores – deer don’t eat ’em, they make lots of babies, and I noticed last week that Lowes is carrying the upward facing ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Bliss’ – sadly I paid a lot more for mine elsewhere…

  4. Carol says:

    I’ve got a couple of Hellebores, I should could use some more. They are a wonderful flower for early spring.

  5. Diana-Sharing Nature's Garden says:

    I’m in awe of your collection of Hellebores. what wonderful colors. I have 3 of them – ‘Phoebe,’ ‘winter’s wren’ and like at your house, it’s dark here! Mine aren’t that hardy, but I’m going to keep trying. Didn’t know Lowes had them- will have to go look- all mine came from catalogs.

  6. You’re preaching to the choir with me. I am absolutely smitten with hellebores. I have ‘Ballerina strain’ also, but mine is a prettier plant, with more color on the petals, about halfway up. I have ‘Pink Lady’ strain, and some of them are darker than yours, nearly black. I believe all the “Lady” hellebores are seed strains. Seed strain plants are always a gamble, but I’ve yet to see a hellebore that I thought was ugly.

  7. Most of my hellebores are passalongs from friends and don’t look nearly as stunning, though I’m happy to have each and every one. I will follow your advice and try to buy some when they’re blooming. My local garden center opens this week.

  8. I love my hellebores and want more and more of them. I divided a huge clump (was about two feet in diameter) of the Brandywine strain and took to my son’s house in South Carolina. They are doing well there! They can also be prolific seeders!
    You have some wonderful varieties, Dee.

  9. Very true! I have my first Hellebores now that I am in SC. My garden in VA didn’t have a lot of shade and where there was shade there was also saltwater flood potential. I got my Hellebores from Park Seed, which is 5 minutes away. Am VERY happy with the Brandywine Series, they are putting on quite a show.

  10. Rose says:

    I didn’t have a single hellebore until I started blogging and seeing them everywhere on other people’s blogs. Now I have several in bloom right now and am coveting some of those gorgeous doubles I’ve seen. I love being surprised every March by their blooms poking through the still dormant shade garden.

  11. Ah, Lenten Rose, I remember that from childhood somehow!

    What breathtaking photos. The pitiful reason I have never grown a hellebore is that I once saw an article about them in a Martha Stewart magazine (I was like 19 years old) and was permanently intimidated. Loved the look, but I *knew* I could never do it, so at the time I spent my money elsewhere and just forgot.

    I might try this, Dee. Thank you!! xoxo

  12. CurtissAnn says:

    Beautiful! I will get myself to Lowe’s today to see if they have them. I have not discovered any other really good places for buying plants here, save for the Botanical Gardens sale spring and fall, but the spring sale is held far to late to my notion. I’m missing you this morning. xxxooo Rosebud

  13. Lea says:

    I love the one I have!
    I wonder if I could grow one in a large pot on my porch.
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea’s Menagerie

  14. Layanee says:

    I so agree with your color choice, plant choice and buying advice. Loew’s has hellebores? Who knew. I will have to check that out. Mine are just starting to emerge with the exception of Helleborus foetidus which has been flowering since December during this mild winter. It is covered in St. Patrick’s Day green. Timely!

  15. Was hell-bent on helleborres, but just can’t find any that like the weather down here on the Gulf Coast. Maybe it’s too many spring-breakers nearby?

  16. Gail says:

    I love hellebores and to show them how much I moved many of them to hill that will be dry in the winter. Permatil added to the soil helps with drainage for ones I wanted to keep closer to the house. I think the yellow ones are especially lovely~If you like doubles the Golden Lotus is lovely. It ‘s also a strain so it’s good to pick it in bloom. Your Ballerina Mix is pretty. gail

  17. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have several hellebores and I love them. They grow and bloom where other plants don’t want to grow let alone bloom. I am talking shade here and tree roots being the culprit to prevent blooms etc. My sister says she doesn’t like them because they (the blooms) are always looking down. After seeing mine blooming this year she is changing her mind.

    I did see a nice way to display the blooms inside and have been doing so all spring. Cut some of the blooms and float them in a bowl of water like you do roses or other blooms. It is fun to have them inside on a cold spring day.

  18. I wanted hellebores. I’d seen them on blogs. I bought one. I’ve been horribly disappointed. I think your advice to buy them while in flower is probably the key. If I had chosen differently, I might have chosen better.

  19. Sonia Kirk says:

    OH so pretty…I have never grown them . On my next trip to TLC I’ll have to put them on my list. I guess I’ve just never seen them in anyone’s garden, just in magazines. Thanks for letting us know where to buy!
    Miss Bloomers

  20. Leslie says:

    Dry winter soil is usually a problem here although I supplied that this year to my garden. I do have one hellebore and I am pretty sure I might have to get some more. Just need to figure out that dry winter soil part…in hopes of a more typical rainy winter next year.

  21. Msslynne says:

    The only reson I have not yet planted this beautiful earthy flower is because I just discovered them this year (!) at Carpinito Bros in Kent WA, and I have been working hard to clear our lot and create a space for everything-this plant is truly at the top of my list-and I would love to have a few different types-love your pictures- there really is something special about this plant-has the full oomph of the peony in a smaller size!

  22. absolutely…I love watching them flower in spring all over the garden…

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