Lenten Rose : Winter-blooming Designer Perennial
Need some garden magic this winter? In the middle of winter, Lenten Rose flowers begin to open and cool weather helps the blooms stay for a couple of months. Easy to care for and long lived, they add much needed color and foliage to the winter garden. Garden designers rely on Lenten Rose (also called Hellebores) to create an interesting, four season garden.
The shade garden certainly needs some evergreen foliage during winter! Mass them under trees or on the east side of your home. Morning sun and afternoon shade are the perfect environment for Lenten Roses. Make sure you plant them in well drained soil. This means amending your East Tennessee clay soil with compost or soil conditioner (finely ground pine bark). Mulch them well because the roots need to remain cool and moist. Fortunately they have no serious insect problems and are deer resistant as well.
Plant these wonderful perennials in the fall. You may also divide existing larger clumps in the fall. You will probably still see blooms next spring because gthe flower buds have already formed for next year. Seedlings can be transplanted to new beds in the fall as well. The plants will grow 18”-24” tall and wide so space accordingly. Plant informal groupings of 5 or more to create a natural look and will fill more blank winter garden space. AS they seed themselves over the years they will create their own natural scene.
Lenten Rose bloom in a variety of colors ranging from white, cream, pink, rose, red, and a new apricot. The bloom times vary within the species and it’s possible to choose some that bloom starting in December and finish in April. Careful planning ensures you are not without bloom each month of winter!
Here are some suggestions for partner plants. Lenten Rose pair well with ferns, Heuchera, and early spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, scilla, or snowdrops. They are wonderful in natural gardens of wildflowers, evergreen azaleas, and camellias. Lenten Rose would also be wonderful planted at the feet of early blooming shrubs like Fothergilla and Witch hazel. They are invaluable for their foliage and simply magical when they begin to sprout fresh green foliage containing tons of flower buds.
Be sure to add some magical Designer perennial Lenten Rose to your garden this season. Every thoughtful addition of plants that have great foliage and flowers in the “off season” will make your yard a four season wonderland.