Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Among the most spectacular of the flowering perennials, the hellebores and coralbells have much to offer as cut flowers.
Coral bells have really gained a wide popularity in recent years partly due to the many improved varieties that are now available. Though the plants may be best known for their showy foliage, the bell shaped blossoms make spectacular cut flowers.
Borne on graceful stems that can be anywhere from one to three feet in height, the wispy flowers open in a range of colors. These include pinks and whites. Some have hints of green, red, or yellow.
The shape ranges from saucer to bell shaped. The individual blossoms are only 1/8 of an inch across. But, they open in showy bunches near the top of the stems in late spring through the summer.
Coral bells require a moist, shady spot. They are hardy to zones three or four. These can be grown as far south as zone eight or nine, depending on the species. Coral bells are mostly propagated by vegetative means instead of seeds. So, you may want to just buy a few plants to provide you with cut flowers.
Allow most of the flowers on a stem to open before you cut it. The vase life is about five days. These are used for filler flowers.
Hellebores are becoming very popular garden plants, which turns out to be a great thing for floral designers. There are numerous species and varieties available.
Their bloom times vary. Sometimes, you can tell by the name. The Christmas rose flowers open during the winter months, usually by February. On the other hand, the Lenten rose waits until spring. For the most part, hellebore blooms are most plentiful from February through late May.
With five petals, the nodding blossoms come in a very wide range of colors. These include purples, all shades of reds and pinks as well as whites and creams. These blossoms are a bit unusual in that the colorful part is really the sepals. The actual petals are so small as to be unnoticeable. These open on short stems. Hellebores need a moist, shady spot. The actual hardiness can vary somewhat from one species/variety to another. Generally, the hardiest can be grown in zones four through five. Zone nine is considered their southernmost limit. Just sow the seeds outside in the fall. They seem to benefit from cold temperatures, and are sometimes slow to germinate.
The vase life of hellebores is about five to seven days. These are used as a mass and accent.