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Q. Can hellebores be grown in the Chicago area?

A. Hellebores can be a fascinating addition to both sunny and partially shaded gardens throughout the Chicago area. The two familiar to gardeners here are the Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) and the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger). Both are clump-forming perennials with evergreen foliage and lovely nodding blossoms in colors ranging from creamy yellow to almost maroon. Perhaps the most unusual feature of these plants is their bloom time: Christmas rose blooms in late winter and Lenten rose in very early spring. The flowers can persist for up to eight weeks if the plants are well-sited. They prefer partially shaded conditions in moist, well-drained soil with lots of organic matter added. Best results come from mulching during hot summers to keep a good supply of moisture available and mulching during the winter to keep drying winds from tearing the foliage. These species and more are on display at the Garden.