Posted on May 10th, 2013 at 6:23 PM by Newark Ohio Garden Club

Hellebores are a group of several species (20 plus) of the family Helleborus an evergreen perennial flowering plant of the family Ranunculaceae (buttercup family). Most are poisonous, and some people need to take extra care when handling the roots of the plant due to the allergic reaction to the sap. The word hellebores may derive from the Greek “helein” which means “kill”, and “bore” which means “food” or “food that kills”. This family of plants is not related to the rose.

Otherwise, the plant has many wonderful attributes. It is deer resistant, has evergreen foliage (although a few are deciduous), and is extremely hardy and long-lived once established, with few pests or diseases. It blooms when few other plant are in bloom. Which for Helleborus niger is as early as Halloween, or as late a Valentine’s Day, depending on weather, planting zone, or the location and soil where it is planted? It is most often called the Christmas rose, snow rose, or black hellebore. Although hard to find and to get established, the old white-blooming Hellebores niger can still be found and ordered online at certain times of the year. It is a species Alpine plant somewhat harder to permanently establish. Make sure it is a plant you are ordering not seeds … unless you want to start from seed.




Helleborus orientalis is in bloom from mid-February to late-April. Both Hellebores orientalis and H. X hybridus are referred to as the Lenten rose. Planting several different varieties and hybrids can extent the bloom time for several months. Who is to say you cannot cut a bouquet of fresh flowers from the garden, in the dead of winter, when snow is on the ground? Finding some of the species varieties even online can be very hard.


Most varieties of Hellebores in today’s garden centers are actually Helleborus X hybridus they are hybrid crosses created from several species. Many are mass produced via tissue culture. They come in a wide range of bloom color; some have double blooms. Individual blooms can last on the plant for up to a month. Foliage can vary from wide palmate to very narrow lancelet, in various shades of green from dark to almost lime/yellow, and some foliage can be spotted or striped. Some are grown not for their bloom, but for their interesting seed pod.
Hellebores are originally native to England and Europe as far south as Spain, Portugal, and Corsica and as far east as the Balkans and Turkey. Helleborus thibetanus is native to China. In history, the hellebores have been associated with having medicinal qualities, with witchcraft, and with Christmas legends in ancient times it was referred to as Christ’s herb. In some old French stories ancient French sorcerers thought they could make themselves invisible by sprinkling hellebore dust in the air where they walked.
Hellebores are great additions to the semi-shade garden. They adapt well as a ground cover under dappled shade trees or shrubbery edges where they get some shade, or on the north side of a building that gets some morning or afternoon summer sun, where they will get bright light. They do not like
dense shade but do not want long periods of sun especially during the summer they do require more sun or bright light during the winter months from November to January.
I would suggest wearing gloves when planting hellebores. They have fleshy, tuberous, roots which spread by rhizomes. The sap can cause itching.

They can be grown in good friable garden soil, a few varieties prefer a rich loamy soil of part peat, part composted material, or well composted manure. A well-drained soil base with plenty of organic matter would be the best description of the ideal planting site. They do not like stagnant wet roots, but they do need moisture especially for the first year or two until they are established. If you buy a plant that is root-bound, try soaking the excess dirt from the root ball in a pail of water. So, the roots can be separated and not be planted in a clump.
It takes a non-mature seedling plant about 3 years to produce blooms. The best time to divide, separate and transplant is in July.

Posted on May 7th, 2013 at 7:56 PM by Newark Ohio Garden Club

Would you like to step outside your door this summer and snip fresh herbs to enhance your culinary efforts?  Growing your own herbs in containers is an easy, convenient and very economical way to have fresh herbs on hand when needed. Herbs will grow in almost any kind of container that has good drainage. Use a high quality potting soil.

Grow what you eat or what you think is attractive. Most herbs need full sun. ( Mint and chives can do well in partial sun). When selecting and planting herbs, be sure to pot herbs that require similar care in the same pot.  Parsley, marjoram, chives and mint thrive with a constant level of moisture. Herbs such as rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme prefer to dry out between watering. In larger pots, consider including a colorful annual for beauty and interest. Again select the flowering annual based on water and light needs similar to the herds in the pot.  Bon appetite!