Friday, February 27, 2015

Early blooming Lenten Rose

H. × hybridus in a garden
Lenten Rose H. × hybridus in a garden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lenten Rose or Helleborus are part of the Ranunculaceae or the Buttercup family, it consist of 15 species that are perennial and do best in zones 5-9.  The #Lenten Rose is a lover of shade and can reach two feet in height and starts its show of life by mid-February or early March.  Their evergreen leaves, depending on what variety you plant, range from fully divided leaflets to toothed, leathery oval shape with coloring of light to very dark green.  The cup shaped nodding flowers come in various shades of creamy white, pink, pale lavender, chartreuse and green that can range from two – three inches wide.  The over all plants can reach 18 inches to 2 feet high, with some varieties, reaching 4 feet; their spread ranges from 18 inches to 36 inches.

The Lenten rose enjoys a rich fertile, moist, well drained soil with plenty of organic matter.  It is best to incorporate leaf mold or organic matter at planting time or in the autumn.  Since the plants is not suitable for division, planting seeds in individual planters in a cold frame will bring greater results.  As far as bugs are concerned, they are susceptible to leave spots, aphids, snails and slugs.   To increase the survival of the plants provide shelter from strong, cold winds.  To obtain the best showing, plants in groups with other early flowering plants.   Lenten rose our great cutting flowers as they last for weeks indoors; special note – all parts of this plant may cause severe discomfort if ingested, the sap may irritate skin on contact.

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