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Red Lady Lenten Rose

Helleborus 'Red Lady'

Helleborus ‘Red Lady’ in full bloom, March 2011,  showing slug damage on leaves. Photo: SK Reid.
Helleborus ‘Red Lady’ in full bloom, March 2011, showing slug damage on leaves. Photo: SK Reid.


This Lenten rose was favored because of the attractive deep ruby color of the flower bracts in late winter. The flowers held for months on the plant, and were still attractive when dry.  The leaf appearance was affected by slugs, which were controlled in spring 2011, but the damage remained throughout the summer.  These plants improve with age, and would have undoubtedly raised their overall appearance scores with more time in the garden, as new leaves were attractive and free of damage.

There were no significant differences in growth between the treatments, but during the peak flowering season, the best bloom was on the 40% and 60% treatments. Since this was also the rainy season, and irrigation was not taking place during the flowering time, the differences in flowering can only be attributable to the differences in the previous year’s irrigation treatments (every 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, and twice a summer for 80%, 60%, 40%, and 20%, respectively).

The counties were mixed in their evaluation of this plant’s performance, though some of the poor performance is related to a failure to meet this plant’s cultural needs: shade and adequate water during establishment. One garden transplanted it during the trial period to a shadier spot, which slowed growth and affected ratings. Where it was not recommended, Riverside, it was exposed to hot mid-day sun, despite our recommendations, and was only watered twice monthly during establishment in a fast draining soil. Some plants were also rated poorly before it was understood that, although hellebores are evergreen, older leaves often need to be clipped off at the end of the season. The garden with the most snow, Nevada County, was impressed with its cold hardiness and early bloom for them. They also understood its management, and not surprisingly, rated it the highest. It is safe to say this Lenten rose would perform in a wide variety of climate zones as long as its cultural needs were met.

Basic Info

Submitted by: UC Davis
Trial Exposure: 50% Shade
Year evaluated: 2011
Height & Width
(after 2 years):
12" x 25" - UC Davis
Reported Height & Width
(at maturity):
1-1.5' x 1-1.5'
WUCOLS plant type: P
Water Needs & WUCOLS Region:
Medium - Region 2 
Mean Overall 
Appearance rating:
(1-5 Scale, 5 is highest)
3.3 - UC Davis 
Flowering Months
February-May - UC Davis

Growth and Quality Data

Click Here for Complete Data Set