Hellebores are firm favourites

Anna's Red Hellebore.

Anna's Red Hellebore.

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Hellebores (common name Lenten Rose, also known as the Christmas rose) are a perennial favourite at this time of year.

They start flowering late December right through to April, depending on varieties. Many are in flower now and come in a range of colours – red, white, yellow, mauve and pink.

They vary in height from 45cm to a metre high.

Many of the older varieties suffered from a fungus disease which made the green foliage go black and unattractive. These leaves are best cut off when the buds have started to appear. This will allow you to have early spring flowers and after the flowers have finished flowering new leaves will come, which will be free from the fungus disease.

Newer varieties are free from this disease and the foliage can be left on the plant. These new varieties are called Hellebore Ericsmithii and are in the garden centre now.

Hellebores are happy in shade, but can be also planted in a sunny position. Before planting make sure the plant is well watered, dig a hole larger than needed and fill with Westland Rose, Tree & Shrub compost with a four-month feed. Make sure the bottom of the hole is well broken up for good drainage, firm the plant in and give a good watering.

Hellebores are better planted at the front of the border. Feed with rose or tomato fertilizer.

Enjoy your Hellebores