Four Easy to Grow, Shade Loving Alternatives to Hostas

By: Julie Day
Green leaves of Lenten rose shrub growing in shady garden.

Lenten roses are both evergreen and deer-resistant .

Shade Loving Plant #4: Lenten Rose (Helleborus)

They may be called Lenten roses for their early spring bloom time, but mine surprised me this year by blooming in January! There’s nothing more refreshing than looking outside on a bleak winter’s day and seeing their sweet flowers poking out of the snow.

Lenten roses are a great addition to a shady garden, with dark, arching foliage and those early blooms. The plants themselves are sturdy evergreens that provide deer-resistant structure to the garden year-round.

Growing Tips for Lenten Roses

  • Light: Dappled sun to full shade. Great to plant under deciduous trees, with light winter sun and summer shade.
  • Flowers on Lenten rose plant.

    Lenten rose in bloom.

  • Water: Once established, Lenten roses are pretty drought tolerant, although they will appreciate a little water during dry spells.
  • Soil: Like other woodland plants, Lenten roses like well-draining soil which is rich in organic matter. Amend heavily acidic soils with lime, particularly if growing hybrids.
  • Division: Lenten roses are slower to establish and generally don’t like to be divided, although seedlings may emerge around the parent plant that can be moved.
  • Size: Lenten roses grow about 18” tall and are evergreen.
  • Climate: Hardy to planting zone 4.
  • Fertilizer: Feed in early spring with a balanced, organic slow-release fertilizer.
  • Pruning: Prune back ragged foliage in early spring before new growth starts. Deadhead flower stalks.

Further Information

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