Spring is in the air… that can only mean one thing: it’s time to start planting Lenten Roses!
These gorgeous perennial flowers are a favorite among floral designers and gardeners alike. In fact, it is hard to resist their stunning blooms after a flowerless winter.
However, if you’re new to gardening, you may be wondering where to start. However, luckily for you, you’re in the right place.
With this in mind, this guide will explore everything you need to know about the Lenten Rose, including how to care for the plant and how to grow it.
Let’s get straight into it.
What Is Lenten Rose?
Contrary to popular belief, the lenten rose (otherwise known as Hellebores) isn’t actually a rose. In fact, it is a perennial hybrid hellebore, belonging to the family of buttercups.
It is the result of crossing Helleborus orientalis with other flowers in the same family. The name, Lenten rose, refers to the flower’s bloom season.
Hence, it blooms around the season of Christian Lent, after late winter, and features a rose-like bud.
The flower itself is valued as an early-season bloom that features traditional colors from pink to white to a light rose-purple color that stands out in evergreen foliage.
That said, these cultivars come in a wide range of colors, including maroon, dark purple, yellow, and cream.
The older heirloom varieties feature blooms that are facing downwards, whereas the newer hybrids feature outward- and upward-facing blooms.
Here, the blooms – similar to petals, albeit; longer lasting – are generally two to three inches in size and appear on thick stems high above different foliage.
In addition, the flowers can showcase different variations in terms of markings, including showy freckling, veining, or margins of a different color.
Plus, depending on the cultivar, these flowers can either be ruffled or smooth.
These flowers usually bloom closer to the ground – underneath the leaves of last year.
From seeds, these flowers grow very slowly – taking between two to three years for the flowers to mature into flowering plants.
You can plant hellebores in the early fall and late spring where they have a blooming period of between eight to ten weeks.
That said, while these flowers are beautiful, you should keep in mind that Lenten rose is toxic to horses, cats, dogs, and even humans.
However, it can be used advantageously as a deer resistance since they bypass this plant and rarely damage it.
Types Of Lenten Rose
As previously mentioned, lenten rose cultivars produce a wide range of colored blooms, however, they all share one basic structure – with other hellebore species being similar to the lenten rose.
Below, we have outlined the different types of lenten rose. These include:
- ‘Mrs. Betty Ranicar’ – These blooms are categorized by their snow-white color and double petals.
- ‘Red Lady’ – These single-petal and upward-facing flowers feature a white and pink blush color or a deep red hue.
- Helleborus niger – Overwise known as Christmas rose, you can sometimes find these white flowers flushed with pink. They appear in the Christmas season in warmer regions or during the mid-winter in colder climates.
- ‘Windcliff Double Pink’ – These are gorgeous double pink flowers featuring mounded foliage.
- Helleborus argutifolius – Otherwise known as the Corsican hellebore, you can find these plants growing along roadsides in Sardinia and Corsica. They are known for their coarse yet bold evergreen foliage, as well as their pale green blooms.
What To Look For In Lenten Rose Plants
- These plants are best placed underneath Japanese maple, whereby the low-spreading branches can provide shade for the roses. However, you’ll want to ensure you plant them on the east side of your home since the morning sun and afternoon shade are the perfect environments for these flowers.
- You’ll want to purchase an already-established plant since these flowers take years to grow. Therefore, there is no need for you to go through this long and tedious process. Even if you buy a flower that is large and established, it will take a few years to flower. Hence, patience is key with these plants.
- When these flowers begin to bloom, you can expect colors ranging from deep wine to light pink, so may even feature speckles coloring. That said, your only way to determine the color of the blooms is by purchasing them from a nursery while they are flowering.
- When you’re ready to plant your perennial, ensure you keep them in well-drained soil. Plus, you’ll want to keep them away from wet ground and clay soil. Moreover, the flowers will reward you in the spring if you cover them with a few inches of compost (or mulch). This ensures that the roots remain moist and cool.
How To Determine The Right Lenten Rose For Your Yard?
As previously mentioned, these flowers bloom between mid-winter and late spring – depending on your climate. Lenten rose is prized for its sturdy yet undemanding temperament, featuring striking colors that make it stand out.
- Hellebores for Shade – Helleborus x hybridus is the most commonly grown perennial. These shaded plants thrive in dappled shade or in shaded areas through parts of the day. As such, they are a great woodland plant. In environments with cool summers – where the soil is less likely to dry out – these plants take in more sunlight. In fact, the more moisture the soil, the more sun this plant will take.
- Christmas rose – (Helleborus niger) also appreciates shaded environments. The stinking hellebore, Helleborus foetidus, prefers taking in the shade from large shrubs or mature deciduous trees. Likewise, they appreciate the shade from the heat of the day thanks to a fence or garden wall. This plant is categorized thanks to its small green bells that are edged with red – this foliage is attractive throughout the year. Plus, it features flowers and leaves on the same stem.
- Hellebores for Sun – In various other cool environments, Lenten roses can thrive in direct sunlight, although many varieties will thrive in plenty of sunshine, too. For instance, the Corsican hellebore, Helleborus argutifolius is a tall type of perennial that has a woody stem featuring leathery, bold leaves and a gorgeous head of large green bowl-shaped blooms. A similar – albeit, smaller – type is the Majorcan hellebore, Helleborus lividus, which features pink-tinted flowers and grayish leaves. The hybrid plant, Helleborus x sternii, combines both these features and is a wonderful, albeit, short-lived plant. Therefore, appreciate it while you can!
When To Plant Your Lenten Rose?
Success when planting your lenten rose is largely dependent on the location you plant it in. Lenten roses feature dark green, thick, and leathery leaves that have become accustomed to indirect sunlight in woodland environments.
Like all plants, hellebores require some sunlight and can even handle bright sunshine as long as it isn’t direct. That said, in the hotter months of the year, you should shield your plant from the afternoon direct sunlight.
These plants thrive under canopies of deciduous trees. Here, the leaves soak up the early spring sunshine before they begin to grow their leaves.
However, before the real heat of the summer arrives, the plant will happily be shielded from the harsh summer sun.
One of the best places to plant your lenten rose is on the north side of your home under a tree.
How To Prepare Your Garden Bed For Lenten Rose?
Since lenten roses are relatively low-maintenance, you don’t have to worry about tons of preparation.
To prepare your garden bed for planting, all you have to do is remove all the existing weeds and provide a general tidy-up to the area.
Moreover, you could even consider implementing a drip irrigation system, this helps to consistently water the new plants, especially during the hot summer months.
In addition, you’ll want to consider how much mulch you’re adding to the garden bed. You can either opt for homemade compost – since it is already readily available, containing a dark color that complements the flower –, or a store-bought one.
Moreover, to enhance the woodland garden aesthetic, you can cultivate some wild moss and arrange it around the perennials.
Below, we have outlined the steps you need to take to plant your potted hellebore plants into garden beds.
- Water your potted lenten roses.
- Set your plants in the yard – Place your potted plants into your garden. When working with hellebores, make sure you’re always wearing gloves. Here, you can make modifications to the placement of your plant until it is just right. Once done, don’t forget to stand back and take a look at the whole area – walking around to achieve different vantage points.
- Dig the required hole(s) – When planting your potted plant, you’ll want to ensure that the hole is about twice as wide as the planter pot – although, not deeper. Here, you’ll want to make sure you’re lining up the inside of the pot with the soil in your yard.
- Backfill the hole carefully with soil – While keeping a hand on the plant, push the loose soil back into the soil so that it is securely packed into the ground.
- Check the soil line – The lenten rose soil line should match up with the pre-existing level of your garden.
- Trim off and remove any damaged or weathered leaves.
- Mulch using homemade compost – You want to place around 1-2 inches of this around the base of your plant.
- Water your flower bed – After planting your flowers, you’ll want to give them a thorough watering.
Lenten Rose Care
Fortunately, if you’re new to gardening, the lenten rose is one of the easiest flowers you can grow. Simply ensure that your soil remains moist and mulch your plants in the early winter to help your perennials thrive.
That said, once established, they can tolerate drier conditions. You’ll want to plant your flowers in early fall or late spring in partial shade to keep them sheltered from direct sunlight and harsh winter winds.
Thanks to its shade tolerance, it is the perfect plant for woodland gardens. As summer approaches, the colors of these plants become less vibrant and fade entirely in the fall.
That said, you can look forward to the persistence of sepals from the lenten rose over six months.
In addition, this perennial plant prefers well-drained, evenly moist, and fertile soil. Here, to improve the plant’s vigor, you can enrich the soil with compost or fertilize it with manure tea.
As one of the most shade-tolerant plants, lenten roses are known to retain most of their foliage and vibrant sepals when placed in shaded environments.
The best location for these shade-loving plants is under a canopy of deciduous trees – providing them with plenty of shade in the summer, as well as enough sunlight in the winter when the trees drop their leaves.
They are more likely to thrive when they receive enough sunlight in the winter and partial sunlight in the summer months.
Humidity And Temperature
While the foliage itself is evergreen, it can become tattered and scorched in harsh winter conditions.
Therefore, to keep them safe from deep freezes, you’ll want to ensure they have winter protection.
If you live in a climate that is proven to have extremely hot and sunny summers, then your plants will require shade.
In addition, it will require constant moisture, too, to help it grow.
Hellebores prefer soil that is evenly moist as opposed to constantly wet and soggy soil – which can invite a range of diseases.
Here, you’ll want to provide enough water to keep the soil moist over hot periods of time and during dry weather conditions. However, once the plants become established, they can tolerate drier conditions.
If there is no rain in the forecast, you can expect that these plants will require at least an inch of water a week.
Make sure to remove scorched, old, dead, or damaged leaves from the plant before it has fully bloomed (this usually takes place in the late winter to early spring).
Once they have finished blooming, cut back the flowers from their stems to their base to encourage additional growth.
Throughout the winter, you’ll want to keep the healthy evergreen present on the plant. That said, during its growing season, you’ll want to remove any ragged or browned foliage from its base.
Likewise, once the flowers start to show brown speckles on their tips, you’ll want to cut them back at the bottom of the plant – the time of year to do this usually depends on your climate and the growing conditions.
While regularly topping your soil with organic matter is more than enough for a single hellebore, for a cluster of multiple plants or larger plants, you’ll want to fertilize them with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the late winter – just when new foliage is forming.
If you’re using liquid fertilizer, then take care not to splash the leaves of your plants as it can burn them. If you do happen to splash your plants, then rinse them with a steady stream of water as soon as possible.
Propagating Lenten Rose
Luckily for you, lenten roses are among the easiest plants to propagate, too. Here, you can cultivate plants by sowing seeds or through division.
The best time to do this is in the spring. A mature plant is one that is over three years old and has flowered in the past.
Here, division can help to make the flowering process more vigorous for the nearing blooming season.
In the first season, transplanted sections can form into blooming plants, that said, some may require more time to recover from the shock of division.
Additionally, divided plants are more likely to grow up to one year quicker than those grown from seeds.
If you’re looking to propagate your lenten rose from division, follow these steps:
- Find a shady spot in your landscape/ garden or a container, a moistened, enriched, well-draining potting soil, and a sterilized knife.
- Dig up one of your plants and divide it by cutting sections of the plant with healthy root systems and above-ground stems.
- Then, replant the division into the soil or place it in a container in a shady location. Ensure you water your plant a day or two after water to keep the soil moist.
Hellebore Care Tips
Generally, lenten roses are resilient and tough plants. However, while they will flower with little care and attention, they will flower with much more prolific and colorful blossoms and develop quickly with the right care and maintenance.
Below, we have outlined all the best tips when it comes to producing the very best lenten roses.
- In the fall, you’ll want to renew the mulch when necessary.
- In the summer, watering and feeding your flowers during dry spells is beneficial. Plus, in the fall, you’ll want to renew your flowers with your preferred mulch – this encourages your plants to grow and develops strong roots.
- In the late fall, make sure you remove some of the foliage from your plants. This will allow new clusters of fresh flowers to develop from the base. Here, you’ll want to remove foliage located at the ground level using kitchen scissors or pruners. This prevents your plants from carrying diseases from one plant to the other – potentially carrying the infections onto new flowers.
- Lastly, you’ll want to deadhead your flowers once they lose their coloring and develop green overtones – here, you’ll notice seeds fattening in the middle of the flowers. Once the seeds have fully developed, you’ll want to cut the stem from the base of the plant. This prevents the plant from self-seeding.
Potential Lenten Rose Problems And Solutions
Generally, lenten roses are problem-free, that said, they can sometimes be troubled by diseases and pests.
Below, we have outlined the most common problem and solutions when it comes to lenten roses.
- Slugs – Here, slugs have the potential to eat your hellebore seedlings or the flower buds once they emerge from the soil. Likewise, they may even climb the flower’s stem and eat the buds of the developing flower. You can use an organic slug treatment to help counter this.
- Mice – Typically, these plants aren’t troubled by mice, however, when raised from seeds, mice can potentially dig these seeds up and eat them. Therefore, to protect your seeds, you’ll want to sow them in pots.
- Leaf spot – Black blotches have the potential to disfigure your flowering buds and foliage. Therefore, you’ll want to remove all the lenten roses foliage and other stemless varieties during the fall to prevent diseases from carrying on into the new season.
- Aphids – Sometimes, clusters of aphids will feed on the back or in the flowers. You can treat this with organic insecticides.
Growing Hellebores In Pots
One advantage of growing your hellebores in a container is that you’re free to move them towards your backyard door in the cold winters, as well as hide them further in the yard under some shade in the summer months.
When using containers to plant your lenten roses, you’ll want to ensure you’re using heavy pots made from terracotta, concrete, or stone – this weight is required to ensure the plant remains stable.
Generally speaking, plastic containers tend to be too light. Moreover, you’ll want to ensure that your container has plenty of drainage holes, as well as high-quality well-draining potting soil.
Plus, you’ll want to ensure that you keep the top layer of your soil packed with compost to encourage healthy growth and plenty of beautiful flowers.
When it comes to growing Lenten Roses, you’ll be glad to know that this is a relatively easy process.
Plus, with the help of this guide, you shouldn’t have any problems. Here, we have outlined everything you need to know about caring for your Lenten Roses.
Hopefully, this guide has provided you with the information and guidance you need to feel confident growing this beautiful perennial plant.