The hellebore really has to be one of the handiest plants in a gardener’s toolkit. Let’s tick off what is good about them and why should have them in your garden.
The stunning flower – known as the winter rose - lasts all through winter and well into spring. Flowers in the garden in winter are so uplifting, and encourage you to get outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes to admire them.
The flowers come in single or double petal varieties in a beautiful, earthy range of colours. Aside from the standard H. orientalis, which is a soft pink with a touch of green, there is also pure white, a range of yellows, plum shades, and deep burgundy. There is even a black variety – the perfect way to add a modern twist in a traditional style garden.
The flowers of the hellebores are very attractive to bees, so by growing them you are providing a valuable nectar source for bees when they emerge from their winter hibernation.
(As an aside, we are still seeing bees in the nursery at time of writing (early July). They are foraging in the hellebores and the foxgloves. When they climb inside the foxglove flowers the buzzing amplifies and you can hear them from a good distance away!).
Back on topic, hellebore flowers also last really well as a cut flower – well over a week!
Plants for a shady spot
Shaded in summer, sun in winter. It is hard to find a plant that can cope with this tricky position. Hellebores fit the bill perfectly and are a great choice if you are looking for something to plant under a deciduous tree.
Tough and hardy plant
Hellebores are very tough and can cope with Melbourne’s dry periods really well. While their preferred position is summer shade, the common H. orientalis can withstand full sun, although the outer leaves may brown off a bit.
They are quite resistant to pest and disease, but you may find aphids in spring on new growth. The thick, serated leaves means they are also not as attractive to snails and slugs as other plants in your garden.
Easy to propagate
After a few years, hellebores can be lifted and divided to create more plants for your garden. This is best done either in autumn or in spring and is a great way to get that woodland effect over time while saving money.
Caring for hellebores
This plant really is very easy to grow, but you will get best results by giving it a good soil rich in organic matter, good drainage and good light in winter. Feeding your hellebores with a good general purpose fertiliser in mid autumn will support it while it flowers, along with a scattering of dolomite lime for magnesium and calcium.
Older leaves can be cut off to encourage new growth and keep the plant looking happy and healthy.
Aside from this little bit of maintenance, hellebores are a really easy plant to grow and you will not regret incorporating them into your garden.