Easily grown in organically rich, fertile, humusy, alkaline, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers light to moderate shade. Although the foliage is evergreen, it may become scorched and tattered in extremely harsh winters, particularly if not sited in locations protected from cold winter winds and/or insulated by snow cover. Cut back flowering stems after bloom to promote new foliage growth. Established plants that become congested 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 will take two years to bloom when grown from seed.
Hybrid hellebores, sometimes commonly called hybrid Lenten roses or hybrid winter roses, are bushy, clump-forming perennials which typically grow to 12-15” tall. They are noted for producing single, cup-shaped flowers (typically 2-3” diameter) with five showy, usually overlapping petals (technically sepals), but sometimes come in a double flowered form. Flowers bloom in a large variety of colors, including various shades and tints of white, pink, red, purple, and yellow, and sometimes have inside spotting. Bloom typically commences in mid to late winter extending into early spring. Flowers appear at the tips of branched stems clad with evergreen dark green leaves which are divided into glossy, leathery, deeply-lobed, often toothed, lanceolate to elliptic segments.
Genus name comes from the Greek words bora meaning food and helein meaning injures/destroys in reference to the plant’s toxic leaves, stems and roots which are poisonous to humans if ingested. Hellebores is also the old Greek name for H. orientalis.
'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 purples, reds, near-blacks, whites, greens and pinks. Nodding, cup-shaped, rose-like flowers (to 2" diameter) with overlapping petals and center crowns of conspicuously contrasting yellow stamens appear in clusters (cymes) at the tips of leafy stems from early February through April. Bloom period can be longer in mild winters. These plants are bushy, clump-forming perennials that typically grow 18-24" tall with glossy, deeply-cut, dark green, evergreen leaves which are deeply lobed and divided into 7-10, narrow, lance-shaped to elliptic, usually-toothed segments. An introduction of 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.
Flowers that bloom in February/March in St. Louis are true harbingers of spring. Best planted in large groups. Locate plants near a kitchen window, patio or walkway so that the early bloom may be enjoyed to the fullest. Group in shady locations under trees, large shrubs or in woodland gardens. May also be incorporated into a naturalized area where the clumps will slowly spread through self-seeding. Mass for an attractive year round ground cover.