I just snapped this photo of the beautiful Helleborus lividus. This is the most heat tolerant and least winter tolerant of the lenten rose species. We’ve grown Helleborus lividus outdoors for over 20 years, despite experts claiming it isn’t winter hardy here. Hint…it needs summer heat to be winter hardy. The new foliage actually emerges in the fall, unlike all other Hellebore species. Although the flowers are interesting, this is one hellebore that we grow for the amazing foliage. Helleborus lividis also prefers a bit more sun and will not thrive in deep shade. In recent years, Helleborus lividus has been hybridized with Helleborus niger to create cold tolerant hybrids with attractive veined foliage. There are two types of these hybrids, Helleborus x ballardiae and Helleborus x ericsmithii.
Have any hybrids been done with H. Niger to improve its HEAT tolerance? I know that you and Nancy Goodwin have had success with it, but I was never managed to keep one alive in Atlanta, and I doubt that our move 40 miles north will have much effect. I had the impression that it was either our summer heat or the lack of adequate cold which defeated them. Like Hostas, which bring me to tears in Vermont, but would never thrive in Atlanta. God, I sound like such a whiner!
Absolutely! We killed all the Helleborus niger we tried for over a decade before we found a couple of great, heat-tolerant strains of the Christmas rose, which we now offer. Also, Helleborus x ericsmithii, Helleborus x ballardiae, and Helleborus x nigercors all Helleborus niger hybrids that have dramatically more heat tolerance. We have a wonderful selection of all of these.
Oh GREAT!! I thought those new hybrids only tolerated more COLD. Must not have read that correctly.
They tolerate slightly less cold, but much more heat.
Think you’d better change the wording about them. You described them as “cold-tolerant”….
We use cold-tolerant to mean tolerant of cold temperature, but not requiring them to thrive.
As I write this on January 3, 2015, Helleborus niger is showing fat white buds about 2″ above ground. It has flowered every year since planting 4 yrs. ago. I do stick in a piece of chalk as recommended by Mr. Hinkley. H. xericsmithii also flowers every year but more sparsely following last year’s brutal winter. H. x nigercors did not flower at all so it must be the least cold tolerant in the Asheville NC area.