If you live in the Southeast, chances are your favorite season isn't winter. Maybe that's even why you live in the Southeast - you prefer a warmer climate. And while the Southeast's winter can't compare to those in say, Denver, Chicago or New York, it's still often nicer when winter is finally giving into spring, no matter where you live. If you want an early sign that spring's coming to pull you out of your winter funk, you'll definitely want to add helleborus to your garden.
Unlike most flowers, the helleborus flowering period is from late winter to the early spring. While everything else in your yard is recovering from the winter, helleborus will fill your garden with white, pink and purple flowers before anything else will. In very warm climates, helleborus can start blooming before December. In cooler places they should start by March (still early for most of the United States) and can bloom until May, right around the time when the rest of your flowers will begin to come into bloom [source: Woodard].
The hotter your area, the more shade your helleborus wants. It's a pretty remarkable plant -- it will bloom when all your other plants are taking a vacation and doesn't even request the sun's spotlight. Though the plants will grow best in a richer soil, it doesn't need a lot of water. Just bring out the hose when droughts come along.
If your area of the Southeast is less humid than most, or you're prone to drought in the summer, check out the next page for a great drought-hardy perennial for the Southeast.