11 Reasons We Love Hellebore Hybrids With Black Blooms
If you've seen pictures of hellebore hybrids on social media, or other places online, you've probably caught yourself wondering: should I add these to my garden? If you are creating a colorful perennial garden, the answer oftentimes is a resounding yes! In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago walks through her favorite reasons to plant hellebore hybrids with beautiful black flowers in your garden this season!
Hellebores are a group of plants that are made up of about 20 different species. The hellebore popularity surge has caused it to become hybridized for certain attributes, mainly flower color and flower shape. Many of these hybrids fall under the Helleborus orientalis category, but they are more commonly referred to as Helleborus x hybridus.
The hybridization of hellebores has created a rainbow effect of flower options. Shades of white, green, and pinks are abundant and each beautiful in their own right. One stand out shade is black. The black flowers of the helleborus x hybridus are shades of deep purple that are so rich they appear black. Oftentimes, their blooms are also tinged with gray which just adds to the darker color.
Black gardens became popular in the Victorian era, and they are still quite popular today. If you have the desire for a Victorian style black garden or just want to add a splash of dark color to your shade gardens a deep black hellebore is the perfect choice. If you need a little more convincing, read onto find out why we love hellebore hybrids, and why you should too!
Grows in Many Climates
Hellebore hybrids are extremely hardy plants. They will tolerate conditions from zones 3-8 which is almost all of the United States. The plant will behave a bit differently in these different zones, but the end product is always the same. Hellebores could bloom anywhere from December to May depending on your climate.
Easy to Find
Helleborus x hybridus is a very common plant that is easy to find at most garden centers. This is especially true in the springtime when they are in full bloom. However, if you wait until the end of the summer you may be able to find some discounted plants. The fall is the perfect time to plant hellebores in order for them to bloom in the early spring.
Hellebores are also available online for purchase through many retailers. You can purchase seeds, bare root plants, or in some rarer instances potted plants in a quart size.
Here are a few varieties of helleborus x hybridus to get you started:
This cultivar is a real show stopper. These deep purple double flowers almost appear black. They have frilly petals with shades of deep gray and are very dramatic additions to your garden. This plant will grow to 22 inches in height. ‘Onyx Odyssey’ is an early bloomer, blooming as early as late winter depending on your climate.
‘Black Diamond’ hellebore has deep purple blossoms, deep green leaves with red undertones sported on red stems. This plant is a shorter cultivar growing to about 18 inches tall. ‘Black DIamond’ would make a really nice border plant.
‘Mardi Gras Plum’
This larger variety of hellebore reaches up to two feet tall. The flowers are a deep plum in color and tower over leathery leaves. This cultivar would be really nice planted in a group in a woodland garden, or even in a container. ‘Mardi Gras Plum’ will bloom from anywhere from February to April.
Easy To Grow From Seed
Helleborus niger will set seeds that are ready to be harvested in the late summer. You have the option to collect the seeds, or to let the plant self seed. Self seeding will allow the seeds of the plants to mature on the plant, drop from the plant, and sew themselves at the base of your current plant.
You can also purchase seeds from a seed trade, or even from garden centers. Either way, you want to get those seeds in the ground by the end of the summer. Allowing the planted seeds to get a few weeks of warm sun before the weather turns chilly will set the seeds up for the perfect timing of germinating in the winter.
Sewing the seeds couldn’t be easier. First, you will want to moisten the soil. Next, spread the seeds on to the top of the soil. It is important not to bury the seeds too deeply in the soil. Gently press the seeds into the soil with your hand, and cover lightly with soil.
Helleborus niger will grow in most soils. It prefers well draining soil, and will not perform well in heavy soil where the water pools. Hellebores should be watered regularly. They can tolerate a small amount of drought once they are established but do not treat them as though they are totally drought tolerant.
Deadheading the flowers after they bloom is simple enough, and the only gardening task your hellebores require from you. You may need to remove a leaf or two here and there to remove any damage from the sun, winter cold, pests, or diseases. Just cut the leaves back and the plant will regenerate more when the time is right.
Made For The Shade
HeHelleborus x hybridus is a perfect fit for your shady gardens. These pretty plants will thrive in the shade, where many other plants will struggle. Using hellebores under a deciduous tree is a perfect place. The deciduous tree will provide the shade that the hellebore requires in the summertime, but will allow the plant to get a bit more sun in the winter as it is preparing for flowering.
If you do not plant under a tree be sure the hellebore will be protected from winter winds. These plants make very pretty foundation plants where the house would provide great protection all year long.
Longer Bloom Times
With few plants blooming in the winter and early spring, helleborus niger is a sweet treat for gardeners.The Christmas rose will bloom around Christmas time in warmer climates. Don’t fret if you live in a cooler climate though, these beauties are very early spring bloomers.
Beautiful Flower Coloring
The dark color of the flowers of hellebores provide amazing interest for your garden. These deep and intense shades of purple are nearly black and are rare. This makes this flower one of the few perennial flowers with black blooms.
There are many options of these dark colored flowers and each of them would be lovely planted with some lighter flowered plants or fresh green foliage plants such as ferns. Planting these dark flowers among lighter shades will help the dark hellebore flowers stand out.
No matter what climate you live in, hellebores have evergreen leaves. They are tough against the harsh winter, just as they are against the heat of the sun. In some instances leaves may get a bit scorched or frostbitten but all you will need to do is remove those damaged leaves and the plant will regenerate them at the right time.
Aside from your typical garden pests such as slugs and aphids, black hellebores do not struggle much with pests. This is also true of diseases, but you should still be aware of a few threats. Hellebores can be targets of fungal diseases.
However, good gardening practices can keep most of these at bay. Watering properly and not allowing water to pool around the base of the plant is important. It is also important to remove any leaf litter that may be too close to the plant.
There is one disease that does pose a threat: Black Death of Hellebore. As the name would have you believe, this is a serious disease of the hellebore plant. You may notice black spots on the leaves of your plant that could resemble leaf spot.
However, as this disease progresses the state of the plant will worsen. You will notice stunted and distorted new growth developing on the plant. Black lines may present themselves on the leaves, and in some cases even on the stems and the flowers.
The helleborus net necrosis virus is transmitted by aphids or through gardening tools. If you notice aphids on your plants it is always a good idea to brush them off, or hose off your plant. You can also use an insecticidal soap.
Bonide has a great insecticidal soap that is available at most garden centers. Keep your gardening tools clean, and sterilize them with rubbing alcohol after working with any diseased plants.
Plenty of Pollinators
The bloom time of the hellebore makes it an important plant for any pollinators that may be out foraging on the occasional warm winter or early spring days.
Their beautiful rose-like flowers are a great source of nectar when there is not much else blooming. This is especially true for honey bees who desperately need the nectar to energize themselves to continue on their pollinating mission.
Great in Containers
The black flowers of hellebore hybrids make a very interesting choice for container planting. Whether you plan to use it only seasonally or want to keep it in the container long term, this is easy enough to do.
You may opt to grow hellebores on their own in a container, or in a mixed pot. They are especially nice with spring annuals and bulbs.
If you choose to do a seasonal pot, just plant your hellebore in a shady, protected spot in your garden when you are done with the container!
If you want to keep your hellebore in the container long term, you will need to make plans for overwintering. This is as simple as bringing the container inside and keeping it cool, but also making sure the roots don’t freeze. These plants will still need sunlight in the winter, so placing it in a three season porch, or a garage with windows would be great!
The unique colors of the black flowered hellebore hybrid make this perennial flower a really special addition to just about any garden space. Imagine the dark blossoms with just a tiny bit of snow on the ground or popping up amongst your daffodils for a stunning springtime contrast. However you choose to plant these dark beauties you will not be disappointed.