The Last of the Hardiest

– Posted in: Hellebores, What's up/blooming

November started out marvelously with highs in the 50s(F) and one day even hit 66°(19C). The second week the switch flipped and the real November showed up with a vengeance. Most nights have been in the teens, but we also got two nights that dipped into single digits (9F=-13C)–that’s unseasonably low for November and was the death knell for many perennials that had been looking presentable up until that point.

‘Pink Frost’ hellebore, however, looks more than presentable.

Helleborus x ballardiae 'HGC Pink Frost'

Helleborus x ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’

I just love the rosy pink on the outside of the bud.
pink frost hellebore flower

‘Pink Frost’ opened its first flower in October. This is flower #2 with a third on the way.

I bought this at my grocery store shortly before Easter and planted it in the Cabin Fever bed once the soil had thawed. The Helleborus Gold Collection (HGC) plants are often sold as Christmas pot plants, too, but I’ve never been able to keep one happy in the house until spring.

I have other hellebores that normally bloom in November but I don’t even see buds on them. However, Helleborus x sahinii ‘Winterbells’ has been blooming since–well, actually I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t in bloom, which is pretty amazing for a hellebore.

winter bells hellebore flower

Yes, it’s a mostly green flower, but hey–it’s a flower and it’s November.

But ‘Winter Bells’ has a serious flaw–it flops.
winter bells hellebore plant

The shorter new growth is nicely upright, but the older stems flop over while they continue to bloom.

I wonder if I cut back the stems at a certain point in its growth cycle, I would then get more shorter stems with new growth. I need to figure out when that ideal time for cutting back is.

The pansies and violas are making a heroic effort, but those two 9-degree nights just about did them in.


These pansies have been blooming since a neighbor left them on the door step for May Day.

violas heuchera

I bought this container in mid-October knowing it would only last a month. I just couldn’t resist 75% off! If I have time before deep snow and consistently bitter cold arrive, I’ll plant the heuchera and combine the violas with the pansies.

But that’s a pretty big if.

By the way, finding a dandelion blooming in November is a very cheering thing.

That’s it for outdoor blooms. I took all my amaryllis outdoors for the summer, and I was surprised to discover ‘Cherry Nymph’ had a flower stalk just emerging when I brought them back in for the winter.
cherry nymph amaryllis

It’s now on the fourth and last bloom.

I couldn’t tell you how I got it to bloom–all my houseplants are treated with benign neglect–but the ‘Nymph’ series of Hippeastrum is generally well-regarded.

You might also like . . .

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens. Check it out at May Dreams Gardens.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

Comments on this entry are closed.

Alan - London gardener November 21, 2017, 1:20 am

These are some nice ideas what flowers to plant if you want to keep your garden blooming this time of the year. Thank you for the article!

Maria November 19, 2017, 4:28 pm

Thanks for this post! I had no idea that flowers could last so late in the fall. How long will the hellebores flower if it doesn’t get too cold? And how cold is too cold for them? It seems like fall would be a lot nicer if there were flowers– maybe a good project for next year.

Kathy Purdy November 19, 2017, 6:29 pm

I really don’t know how cold it needs to get for hellebores (and we are only talking about H. niger and hybrids with H. niger) to stop blooming, because mine get buried in snow while blooming, and they finish blooming the following spring after the snow melts off of them.

Beth @ PlantPostings November 16, 2017, 9:20 pm

Very nice! I’m amazed that you still have things blooming, and they’re beautiful examples. As Linda mentioned, record lows in the single digits wiped us out here in S. Wisconsin. That Hellebore is really special!

Lea @ Lea's Menagerie November 16, 2017, 10:36 am

Beautiful amaryllis!
Love the Hellebores, too!

commonweeder November 16, 2017, 8:23 am

Those 9 degree nights even did in my Sheffies which have been so valiant. I am done with outside bloom, but the winterberries, red and gold, are very cheering.

Gail November 16, 2017, 8:15 am

That’s a sweet hellebore. I killed it! It was in a container, but, might have drowned in the winter.

Lisa at Greenbow November 16, 2017, 7:21 am

You have some serious cold to deal with up North. Our November has been about the same except our colds haven’t been as severe. The cold is coming though. Your bloom remnants are inspiring. No one sells pansies in fall around here. I just love them even in their crumbled state. Hellebores are fabulous. They keep on despite the weathers. Happy GBBD.

Linda November 15, 2017, 10:55 pm

Much more than I’ve got. Those 9 degree nights ended it all.

Leslie November 15, 2017, 8:58 pm

Quite a few blooms from a garden in such a cold climate! A good year!