Hellebores are the iconic late winter or early spring perennial flower. Thriving in shade, these evergreen plants manage to stave off frost damage, wind, and desiccation to produce some of the loveliest flowers we see. At a time when we’re starved to see some beauty in our gardens, hellebores are glad to oblige. They can take credit for extending our Northern growing season by a big margin.
A member of the ranunculus family, hellebores not only bloom early but continue for weeks and sometimes months, usually still in flower when other plants are just beginning to show. Plant enthusiasts know hellebores well and enjoy watching them naturalize an area. Their root systems are strong so they will spread as far as you allow.
There is a great range of colors available and the flowers themselves can be quite complex showing various shades of color, veining, spots or picotee edges. The flower shape itself can also vary from open anemone-like blooms to bell-shaped or ruffled double blooms. Below are five varieties that we think are very worthy of your shade garden.
‘Ivory Prince’ grows vigorously and begins blooming in late winter! The light color offered on upward facing flowers will stand out well in the shade. Buds are pink while flowers open in ivory. The blooms open up wide and flat so they really show up. As the flowers age, they take on pink and green tones. This is a classic hellebore.
‘French Kiss’ is a member of the Honeymoon™ Series of hellebores from Walters Gardens. The flowers are large (3.5-4″) with raspberry veining on white. Add that yellow center and you have an immensely attractive flower!
‘Mahogany Snow’ never looks like the same plant through its weeks of bloom. As the flower ages, it turns from cream with a pink underside to deep mahogany pink all over. As it changes, the range of colors is stunning.
‘Confetti Cake’ is part of the Wedding Party™ series from Walters Gardens. Immensely successful, the Wedding Party™ and Honeymoon™ Series both offer plants of great quality and reliability. ‘Confetti Cake’ has intricate burgundy patterning on a white background. These are double blooms with a wonderful ruffled look.
Another member of the Wedding Party™ Series, ‘Dark and Handsome’ is aptly named. These double flowers are so purple they are almost black. The center is lime green. Pair with other plants from the Wedding Party and Honeymoon Series. They were all selected together and make an awesome group.