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Best Plants and Products for Cape Cod

Best Plants and Products for Cape Cod

Today I posted revised lists of plants and products on our Best For Cape Cod web page.  Why make changes? Well, first of all, there are always going to be a plant or two that we’ve overlooked. Secondly, since we launched this educational effort four years ago there have been new plants that have come onto the market that Cape Cod homeowners and gardeners need to know about. And finally, there are always new pests and problems that arrive that might make a previously strong plant suddenly be problematic. So it’s in our interest to revisit these lists frequently and make any needed additions and changes.

At this time of year one of the plants that’s on the Best Perennials For Cape Cod list is in full flower. There are two main species of Hellebores that are commonly grown on the Cape: the Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) and the Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis or hybrids). Their common name tells you when they usually come into bloom. Since this winter has been so mild, the Helleborus orientalis have been blooming since February, and because they aren’t buried by snow (as in 2015) we can appreciate their winter flowers.

Smart gardeners will buy Hellebores when they are in bloom…our growers commonly offer them in late November and early spring since that’s when they are the most showy. It can be hard to find these winter-flowering plants in the normal planting season! So when I saw a great selection of Lenten Rose plants at Country Garden the other day you’ll understand why I just had to bring a couple home.

Grow both types of this plant in a part-shade garden that has neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Since they are in flower at a time of year when we commonly don’t spend too much time walking through our gardens, it’s smart to plant them in a location that you frequently pass in the winter months. So next to a door you use frequently, for example, or even a garden that you drive by as you pull into your property.

Note that most hellebores will self-seed and even self hybridize, so be on the lookout for young plants and be willing to grow them on to see what develops.

This yellow hellebore is a variety called "Sunshine Ruffles." How could we not want more sunshine in March?

This yellow hellebore is a variety called “Sunshine Ruffles.” How could we not want more sunshine in March?

This variety starts out white and turns a bit cream colored as it ages.

This variety starts out white and turns a bit cream colored as it ages. This one is called ‘Wedding Ruffles.’

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