Most plants look pretty dead by late December, and for plant lovers, it can be a bleak time of year when eyes get hungry to see anything green. Hellebores check that box.

We grow hellebores for their early spring blooms, but we appreciate their steadfastness in the face of winter’s onslaught. Most things that look like hellebores die back to the ground after the first frost, but not these understory beauties. They stay as green as can be, almost as if they were fake flowers.

Technically hellebores are perennial flowering plants in the buttercup family, but we don’t see too much buttercup in them. To us their flowers look more like a cross between a leaf and a petal. They typically bloom at Blue Gables Farm in March and can crank out White, pink, purple and yellow flowers for up to six weeks. They love partial to full shade and are hearty in climates much colder than central Maryland. Deer seem to leave them alone except they sometimes munch tender new growth.

Cut Flowers

We cut flowers from our Hellebores to add volume and interest to our early-season arrangements. They tend to have an average vase life of about 5-7 days, which we can extend by scalding their stem bottoms in boiling water before we stick them in clean water with hydration solution. Because hellebores require this extra handling, they are not commonly used as cut flowers, but that’s part of what we like about them. People smile and say “What’s that?”

Thank you, hellebores, for helping to get us through the winter.