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Helleborus orientalis (Hell-ah-BOR-us or He-LEB-oh-rus
Lenten rose, Hellebore
Helleborus niger (NY-ger)
Christmas rose, Hellebore
Hellebores are an increasingly popular potted blooming plant.
They are known for their thick, shiny green foliage and five-petaled
flowers that resemble wild roses. As many as 50 or more flowers
per plant can be expected. Bloom forms include semidoubles,
doubles and some with edgings like fancy stitching.
Bloom colors range from pure white to a deep plum bordering on
black and include hues of pink, rose, magenta, cream, pale
yellow or green. They often show intricate contrasting spots
inside each cup-shaped bloom. Some varieties also display earthy
hues of green inside the blossoms.
With proper care, hellebores can flower for two months or
longer, followed by attractive seed pods. The plants can last
Hellebores generally are in bloom and available between December
and March although some begin earlier and others continue into
April and May.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
LIGHT Advise customers to
choose an east, south or west window to provide the correct
light levels. Do not allow direct sunlight to hit the plants.
WATER Keep the potting mix
TEMPERATURE Hellebores do
best with indoor temperatures of 65 F or warmer. Daytime
temperatures of 70 F are ideal.
HUMIDITY Humidity levels
should be high. This can be achieved in the home by placing the
plants in pebble trays. Misting frequently is also beneficial.
FERTILIZER Use a balanced
fertilizer on these plants, and feed them every two to three
SOIL Hellebores perform best
in a well-drained base containing plenty of organic matter.
GROOMING Remove individual
flowers as they fade. If lower leaves turn yellow, they can be
removed without damaging the plant.
TOXICITY Hellebores are
considered highly toxic. Be sure to warn customers to keep them
away from children and pets. Use gloves when processing them
because contact with the leaves can cause mild dermatitis in
DISEASE A condition called
“hellebore black death,” believed to be a virus, can cause
damaged tissue. There is no treatment, so quarantine and dispose
of suspect plants immediately.
PESTS Aphids can infest
newer growth on hellebores. Wash them off with a solution of
TRADITION The “Christmas
rose” (H. niger) long has been associated with Jesus Christ. In
Germany, these plants are the floral emblem for Christmas, and
tablecloths, napkins, wrapping paper, Christmas cards and floral
decorations feature this flower more than any other. Another
species of hellebores, H. orientalis, is called “Lenten rose”
because the plants flower in early spring in some areas.
FAMILY Hellebores belong to
the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family. Other members include
Ranunculus (Persian buttercup), Delphinium, Aquilegia
(columbine), Clematis, Consolida (larkspur) and Nigella
ORIGINS Hellebores originate
from the European Alps.
HONORS Helleborus x hybridus
(syn. H. orientalis) was named the 2005 “Perennial Plant of the
Year” by the Perennial Plant Association.
Some information provided by:
Royal Horticultural Society,
The Garden Helper,
Green Beam Plant Picks,
Photos courtesy of Yoder Brothers, Inc.
You may reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W.
Brown, AIFD, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (415) 239-3140.
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