Lenten Rose - Early Riser
Many of us are itching for spring to arrive after having several snow storms and unseasonably cold temperatures. To help us out there are some plants that can handle the cold and like to be the first to sprout and bloom which is a welcome sight.
Most gardeners welcome what we call the Lenten Rose because it is known to bloom during late winter and early spring. In unseasonably warm weather some varieties will bloom in December. The plants range in height from 12 to 30 inches. The flowers are between an inch and two inches wide and come in both single and double flowers. Some of the flowers face down and others face outward. A real bonus is that they grow in dry shade. We can top off that news with the fact that deer do not eat them.
Nurseries and mail order companies carry the plants from December through the spring as these plants have really increased in popularity. Growers both here and in England have been hybridizing and now you can find Lenten Roses that come in pure white, speckled, green, dark burgundy, and many shades of pink. There has been some impressive work done on selected varieties that also have leaves with markings so that the plants are interesting for multiple seasons.
The plants will slowly multiply forming a mound and produce multiple stems of flowers. They will also produce seed and in a few years you will see seedlings pop up in your shade garden which you can leave or transplant to a location of your choosing,
The plants typically come in quart pots and to plant you dig a hole a little larger than the size of the pot. Turn the pot upside down and let the plant slide out being careful not to break the leaves. You can give the plants a better start by placing some organic matter in the hole you just dug and sprinkle in some slow release fertilizer as per the directions on the package. Press the soil around the transplant and water to help the plant adjust to its new location. Make sure they get an inch of water a week until they have settled into your shade garden.
Some flower farmers have now planted Lenten Roses in their beds because they have found that they can be a nice addition to early spring flower arrangements and currently they are not being shipped from overseas as cut flowers. You can take the individual stems and place one or two flowers in small bud vases and place them in the front of each dinner guest or gather a half a dozen vases and cluster them with the Lenten Roses for a nice effect. Hope this information entices you to try this plant or increase the varieties you currently have in your garden.