Royal Heritage™ HelleboreHelleborus x hybridus
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Helleborus x hybridus
Outdoor Growing zone
Partial Sun, Shade
For early blooms in your garden, nothing can beat the Lenten Rose. Just as the snow has barely melted, or even before, up push the first blooms on these treasured plants. But white or pale pink is usually the only color – that’s why there is instead the Royal Heritage Hellebore. This group have been specially bred to produce flowers that can be dark purple, bright purple, pink, yellow, rose, pale green, or white, often speckled and splashed with dark red, or toned through several shades. Plant several in a bed beneath trees and wait for the party to begin next spring. The evergreen leathery leaves make a dense mound that is an excellent, attractive ground cover for the rest of the year. Grow them beneath deciduous trees, in beds or in woodland, or at the foot of a north-facing wall or fence. In warmer zones they can be grown in pots, and brought into a cool porch or room to enjoy the blooms more fully.
Grow the Royal Heritage Hellebores in partial shade, with some morning sun, or in the dappled shade beneath deciduous trees. The foot of a north or east facing wall or fence is good too. Plant in rich, well-drained soil that is generally moist, although established plants are drought resistant. Add organic material when planting, and as mulch. This plant enjoys alkaline soil – add some lime if yours is acidic. Normally free of pests or diseases, but watch for slugs when blooms are pushing up. Deer and rabbits don’t bother it. Cut off the flowering stems, and any damaged or dying leaves, once the bloom period has ended. Specific colors can’t be guaranteed.
The Lenten Rose is a wonderful flowering perennial for early-spring blooms. It is more vigorous and easier to bloom successfully than the Christmas Rose. That plant blooms earlier, but in cooler zones these are often destroyed by winter cold before they get going properly. Similar in appearance, but usually in shades of pink, from near-white to rose-purple, and also in white. Attractive as the ‘ordinary’ plant is, breeding since the 19th century has given us a much wider range, all the way form dark purples to pure white, and flowers often decorated with lovely dark spots inside the flowers. If you want that, then grow the Royal Heritage Hellebore, a selected strain of the Lenten Rose that captures the full range and beauty available in this lovely plant. We can’t guarantee any particular color, but they are all lovely. How about planting a collection – big or small – of several plants and enjoying the excitement of seeing what you get? You and your garden deserve surprises, and not everything in life needs, or should, be completely predictable, right?
The Royal Heritage Hellebore is an evergreen perennial with a strong underground root system that grows and lives for many years. From that root leaves grow up directly. These are large, divided into 5, 7 or 9 oval leaflets with serrated edges. Leaves are smooth, glossy and dark green, and variable in size – some can be 8 inches long, other will be smaller. These form a dense mound of foliage up to 2 feet across, which makes a good ground cover, inhibiting weeds and looking great, even when plants are not in bloom. From late fall through winter flower stems grow up to a height of about 2 feet. These branching stems carry several flowers, in clusters of 1 to 4 blooms, and there are often small leaves mixed among the flowers. The buds wait until the first glimmer of warm weather, typically in the 2 months preceding Easter, or between February and April, blooming earlier in warmer zones.
The flowers are 2 to 3 inches across, slightly nodding and bowl shaped, with 5 partially-fused petals. In the center is a cluster of yellow stamens which develop into seed pods like miniature pea-pods as the flowers age. All the flowers on a plant will be the same, and the exact nature of the flower will only show when it blooms. Flowers can be pure white, pink, rose-red, purple-red or deep purple, sometimes toned with pale greens. The inside may be spotted and veined with darker colors from a few to dense freckling. Blooming last for 8 or even 10 weeks, with flowers passing through different colors, with pale colors often turning chartreuse-green, and darker colors turning purple.
These plants are among the best ground covers to plant beneath larger deciduous shrubs, and beneath deciduous trees. Always attractive, they need little attention and bring lots of beauty when in bloom. Grow them also among other shade-loving plants, in formal or natural settings. They are also great in pots, which can be overwintered in a cool porch, where they will bloom early, producing perfect blossoms unblemished by winter weather.
Completely hardy and happy from zone 4 to zone 9, almost everyone can grow the Royal Heritage Hellebore. In zone 4 leaves may be damaged in winter, but new ones quickly replace them in spring. In warmer zones blooms come earlier, in late winter.
Grow the Royal Heritage Hellebore in partial shade, with some morning sun, or in open dappled shade beneath deciduous shrubs and trees, where it receives sun from late fall to early spring, and shade in summer. It grows best in rich, moist, well-drained alkaline soil. Add a handful of garden lime when planting if you have acid soil. Established plants are resistant to ordinary summer drought, but some water is always appreciated during hot weather.
Deer won’t eat the Royal Heritage Hellebore, and neither should you. All parts of this plant are toxic, although cases of poisoning are very rare. It was once used medicinally. Other pests are virtually unknown, although slugs can sometimes eat pieces of the flower buds when they are still close to the ground – keep an eye out for them. Remove flower spikes back to lower leaves when the flowers finally brown, and any dead or very damaged leaves in spring. Nothing else is needed, although some fall mulch with compost is useful.
There are two main species of hellebores grown, the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger, and the Lenten Rose, Helleborus orientalis. The first is found wild in Switzerland and mountains nearby, and the second in Greece, Turkey and further east. Since the 19th century keen gardeners have bred these plants, selecting interesting colors and flower forms, especially from the Lenten Rose. Breeding these plants was especially popular in the United Kingdom, and by the end of last century there were many small breeders with their own unique plants. Around that time the American plant expert and authority on perennial plants, John Elsley, collected seeds from numerous UK growers, while working for the Park Seed Company, based in South Carolina. They created from these plants a unique strain of seeds that would produce sturdy, quick-blooming plants in a wide range of colors. They named it Royal Heritage. These seeds are then grown by various nurseries, producing plants of the Royal Heritage Hellebore.
Some wonderful are the plants produced from the Royal Heritage Hellebore strain, it was named Perennial Plant of the Year in 2005 by America’s Perennial Plant Association. You will love the beauty of every bloom, no matter what exact colors and patterning your own plants give you. Order your plants of this prize-winner now, while we still have stock available – they won’t last long.