Why are Flowers Blooming in Boise?

It's not because of the warm weather

A couple of people have sent me photos recently of flowers blooming around Boise, wondering if it is because of our unusually warm winter.

Time to put on my Advanced Master Gardener hat.

Our weather sure has been unusually warm, but that's not why these flowers are blooming.

They are hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus, also called Lenten Roses or Christmas Roses. They bloom even when they are covered with snow.

You might be wondering how a plant like this can be pollinated when they aren't any bees around?

Hellebores can be pollinated by any insects that happen to be around, or by the wind, or a raindrop. 

Many of the varieties in home gardens are hybrids that are sterile, so pollination doesn't matter.

They're available in several colors with different bloom times. Some flower in December, such as the one below.

After you plant one, be patient, it may take a couple of years for it to bloom. 

The plants can be rather expensive. Be sure to mark the area where it is, so in a heavy snow year, you can dig through the snow to enjoy the flowers.

Bonus: Deer won't eat them.

Caution: Hellebore 'black death.' It's thought to be a virus, and it's devastated some plants in the Treasure Valley over the past couple of years. There is no cure. Read the gory details here


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