Helleborus purpurascens 'Red Power'
Common Name: hellebore
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Maroon red
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Heavy Shade

Culture

Easily grown in organically rich, humusy, neutral to alkaline, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Plants generally prefer sun-dappled part shade with leafy, moisture-retentive soils. Cut back flowering stems after bloom to promote new foliage growth.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Helleborus purpurescens is a clump-forming perennial that is native from Hungary and Poland to the Balkans. It typically grows to 12-18" tall and is noted for its glossy, leathery, dark green basal leaves and its showy late winter bloom of 5-petaled, light purple and gray flowers that are often flushed with pink. Although many of the hellebores have evergreen foliage, the leaves of this species are not evergreen, with plants usually going briefly dormant by late fall to early winter. New flowers (to 2-3" diameter) bloom in stalked cymes (2-4 flowers each) during the period of late winter to early spring (March-April in St. Louis) before the new leaves emerge. Leaves, stems and roots are poisonous.

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.

Specific epithet means tending to purple.

'Red Power' features cup-shaped maroon-red flowers. Leaves are usually palmate with 5 leaflets, each of which is deeply divided into 2-6 lance-shaped segments.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Crown rot and leaf spot are occasional problems.

Garden Uses

Flowers that bloom in March in St. Louis are true harbingers of spring. Best planted in 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.