Helleborus × hybridus Harvington red
Lenten rose hellebore
- Position: partial shade
- Soil: heavy, neutral to alkaline soil
- Rate of growth: average
- Flowering period: February to April
- Other features: all parts of the plant cause severe discomfort if ingested; the sap may cause skin irritation; dark greyish-green leaves give off an unpleasant odour when crushed
- Hardiness: fully hardy (borderline)
Nodding or outward-facing, saucer-shaped, flowers open in February in varying shades from deep pink to clear red. The flowers last for up to 3 months and the handsome evergreen foliage is leathery, deeply cut and dark green. One of the earliest flowering plants, lenten roses have most impact planted in groups at the front of a partially shady mixed border where they can be seen through windows in winter. Or try them as ground cover beneath deciduous shrubs or among spring-flowering bulbs. In former times, hellebores were planted close to cottage doors to prevent evil spirits from crossing the threshold.
- Garden care: Add lots of well-rotted leaf mould or organic matter to the planting hole. Cut the old leaves back down to the ground in January or February as this will show off the new emerging flowers to best effect. It will also help to get rid of foliar diseases such as Hellebore leaf spot. Apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted organic matter around the base of the plant in autumn and provide a top-dressing of general fertiliser each spring.
- Harmful if eaten/skin irritant