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Hellebore Companions

Here are the plants that make the best companions for hellebores—also known as Christmas or Lenten rose.

The Christmas rose (Helleborus niger; Zones 4–8) and the Lenten rose (cultivars of H. ×hybridus; Zones 5–8) are prized as perennials that bloom in winter and early spring, in regions where the vast majority of other herbaceous plants lie dormant. But rather than let them lonesomely bloom in a bare patch, give them evergreen companions that will help them pop. This is particularly important among Lenten roses that lack foliage of their own when in bloom. Here are some good choices:

Evergreen ferns such as hart's tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium; Zones 5–9) and Japanese shield fern (Dryopteris erythrosora, Zones 6–10) provide a leafy backdrop to the hellebores' flowers.

Dwarf evergreen shrubs such as Christmas box (Sarcococca confusa; Zones 6–8) and Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n' Gold' (Zones 5–8) provide shelter and contrast.

Low ornamental grasses are also good choices. Carex comans (Zones 7–9) and C. buchananii (Zones 7–9) lend an airy texture and will tolerate the shady conditions hellebores prefer. In winter, the tawny leaves of these grasses are a good contrast for dark pink or purple hellebores.

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Looking for more Evergreen plants? Great Landscape Evergreens has some great options!

Getting ready for winter? Check out Horticulture's Smart Gardening Techniques for preparing your garden for winter. Also check out Green Christmas for eco-friendly ways to enjoy the season.