Easily grown in organically rich, fertile, humus rich, alkaline, moderately moist, well drained soil in partial shade to full shade. Prefers light to moderate shade. Although the foliage is evergreen, it can become scorched and shredded in extremely severe winters, especially if not placed in locations sheltered from cold winter winds and/or insulated by a blanket of snow. Cut back flowering stems after flowering to encourage new foliage growth. Established plants that are overstressed may be divided in late summer to early fall. Hybrid hellebores are often grown from seed (some come true and some don’t), but plants take two years to flower when grown from seed.
Hybrid hellebores, sometimes commonly referred to as hybrid lenten roses or hybrid winter roses, are bushy, clump-forming perennials that typically grow 12-15 inches tall. They are known for producing single, cup-shaped flowers (typically 2-3 inches in diameter) with five showy, usually overlapping, petals (technically sepals), but sometimes come in a double-flowered form. Flowers bloom in a variety of colors, including various shades and tints of white, pink, red, purple, and yellow, and sometimes have spots inside. Flowering typically begins in late winter and extends into early spring. Flowers appear at the tips of branched stems covered with evergreen dark green leaves that are divided into glossy, leathery, deeply lobed, often toothed, lanceolate to elliptical segments.
The genus name comes from the Greek words bora, meaning “food” and helein, meaning “injured/destroyed,” in reference to the plant’s poisonous leaves, stems, and roots, which are poisonous to humans if ingested.
Hellebore is the ancient Greek name for H. orientalis.
The ‘Royal Heritage’ strain most closely resembles H. orientalis. It is a collection of hybrids with a wide variety of flower colors, including tones and combinations of purple, red, almost black, white, green, and pink. Nodding, cup-shaped, rose-like flowers (to 2 inches across) with overlapping petals and medium corollas of strikingly contrasting yellow stamens appear in clusters (cymes) at the tips of the petioles from early February through April. The flowering period can be longer in mild winters. These plants are bushy, clumping perennials that typically grow 18-24″ tall with glossy, deeply dissected, dark green, evergreen leaves that are deeply lobed and divided into 7-10 narrow, lanceolate, elliptical, mostly serrated segments. An Introduction in Wayside Gardens of Hodges, South Carolina.
No serious insect or disease problems. Crown rot and leaf spot are occasional problems. Leaves, stems and roots are poisonous. Deer and rabbits tend to avoid this plant.
Flowers that bloom in St. Louis in February/March are true heralds of spring. Best planted in large groups. Place the plants near a kitchen window, patio, or walkway so you can fully enjoy early flowering. Group in shady spots under trees, large shrubs or in woodland gardens. Can also be incorporated into a naturalized area where clumps will slowly spread by self-seeding. Mass for an attractive all year round ground cover.