Grow hellebore winter flowers to add beauty and surprise to your winter garden. These perennial plants burst into flower in the darkest months of the year.
Hellebores are on-trend garden plants. They have been the focus of attention for plant breeders and there are some fantastic new varieties as well as some long established stalwarts to choose from. Look out for unusual colours, they can be expensive and very exclusive.
Nectar rich for pollinators
The open flowers of hellebores are a magnet for pollinators feeding on the rich nectar within the accessible nectaries. Recent research from the University of Bristol measured available nectar from garden plants and discovered that one hellebore flower had as much nectar as 157 snowdrops. But, if you are growing plants for pollinators remember that the pollen and nectar in single flowered and open varieties is more accessible than double varieties. The nodding heads of the hellebore flowers also act as living umbrellas for feeding pollinators.
Hellebores are mostly evergreen, but some are herbaceous dying back to a crown for the winter. Most are hardy in the UK and thrive in shady, damp conditions reflecting their deciduous woodland origins.
Hellebores are very tolerant and will grow in most soils from slightly acidic through to slightly alkaline, as long as the ground is not extremely dry or waterlogged. They will tolerate drier conditions in summer months as long as there is some shade, but do bear in mind that too much shade all year round can reduce the number of flowers. Grow them in a position sheltered from cold winds, under the canopy of deciduous shrubs and trees that will provide plenty of light in winter and spring. Plant your hellebores on a sloping bed or bank so that you naturally improve the drainage and make it much easier to look into the flowers.
Hellebores work well with other flowering shrubs such as witch hazels and flowering currant. They also look good planted with snowdrops, grape hyacinths and other early spring-flowering bulbs.
Hellebore winter flowers are easy to grow
Hellebore winter flowers are garden stalwarts and are really easy to grow. They are hardy, perennial plants. That means, once you’ve got them established they will clump up and come back year after year and that makes them a great investment for your garden. Here are some really exciting hellebore varieties that Richard has chosen for your gardens this season.
The large, saucer-shaped flowers of hardy perennial hellebore Helleborus Snowdrift face outwards, and are pure white in colour with a glowing golden centre, just perfect for winter active pollinators. The gorgeous flowers appear in winter, they open single at first, then as the smaller inner petals grow, they magically turn into double blooms. They are set off by the glossy, evergreen leaves. This plant prefers dappled or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. Grows to a height of 35cm (14in) and a spread of 35cm (14in).
If you love hellebores and want more bang for your buck, then consider growing the popular double-flowered Lenten rose hellebores (now on offer at Richard Jackson Garden). The flowers contain more petals so that each bloom has much more colourful impact and flower power.
Lenten roses (Helleborus hybridus varieties) are hardy herbaceous perennials that bring a delightful splash of colour to your garden in late winter and spring, from February to April. Often that’s a dull and bleak time in the garden so these plants create a very welcome end to dark and gloomy winters! These double flowered blooms have many more petals – so they really stand out and provide masses of garden flower power.
Special new double hellebore flowers
Look out for these special strains of double flowered hellebores for the best results in your garden (now on offer at Richard Jackson Garden). Looking like perfect miniature waterlilies, the beautiful double-flowered Lenten rose hellebores are among the most desirable of all spring-flowering plants. The charming multi-layered flowers add a touch of magic to any garden. Plant them in the autumn, improve the soil with Root Booster and then enjoy your plants.
Hellebore ‘Double Green’ produces beautiful double green flowers, tinted with a little creamy-yellow.
Hellebore ‘Double Purple’ has delightful, double flowers in a moody, smoky purple colour.
Hellebore ‘Double White’ has double flowers as close to pure white that you can imagine.
These are all set off by glossy green foliage and prefer positions in light or partial shade. Grow to a height of 35cm (14in) and a spread 25cm (10in).