Lenten rose is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, perennial to flower in the garden. These evergreen beauties are easy to grow and no self-respecting shade garden should be without several clumps.
Description of lenten rose: Deeply divided, palmate evergreen leaves grow from a thick rootstock, producing nodding flowers that appear in late winter or early spring. Flowers easily last for 8 to 10 weeks and are either whitish or plum-colored. Plants grow 15 inches tall and wide.
How to grow lenten rose: Lenten rose grows easily in deep, well-drained soil with plenty of humus and partial shade. It likes consistent moisture and alkaline soil. Plants are slow to establish but are long-lived after the second year. At low temperatures, some protection is needed against drying wind. A light mulch of ground oak leaves helps keep the evergreen leaves looking good through winter. If leaves are damaged, prune them off in late winter to make way for fresh growth.
Propagating lenten rose: By digging and replanting small seedlings that appear at the base of two- to three-year-old plants.
Uses for lenten rose: The foliage alone is worth growing and makes an excellent ground cover. Lenten rose can also be effectively mixed in with hosta, ferns, brunnera, and heuchera in shaded gardens. Flowers are good for cutting.
Lenten rose related species: Helleborus foetidus, bearsfoot hellebore, is hardy to growing Zone 5 and has deeply divided, narrow, dark green leaflets. Light green nodding flowers bloom in early spring. Plants grow 18 to 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide.
Scientific name for lenten rose: Helleborus orientalis
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