The Hellebore, or Lenten Rose, is a perennial that does well in the Chicago area and is very long-lived. It is one of the first perennials to bloom in early spring, around March or April. Hybridizing has created a range of flower colors such as white, pink, purple, yellow, blue-black, and apricot.
Hellebores are very tolerant and will grow well in most well-drained soils. For best flowering, they prefer partial shade and organic soil with adequate moisture, although Hellebores can be grown in denser shade and drier conditions.
The foliage of the Hellebore is a leathery, dark green and is semi-evergreen in the Chicago area. The foliage is best cut back to the soil line in late winter (avoiding new bloom shoots) to allow the flowers to be the feature attraction when they appear.
For more information, we recommend the following references and websites:
Burrell, C. Colston and Judith Knott Tyler. Hellebores: a comprehensive guide. Portland:Timber Press (2006).