While many plants are great candidates as crepe myrtle companions, the hellebore stands out from the crowd.
The showy plant with its bright flowers has a lot to offer any landscape or under-tree garden that you are designing.
Can you plant hellebores under a crepe myrtle? Yes. Hellebores are evergreen plants that do well under the deciduous crepe myrtle since they prefer shade in the summer and some sun in the winter. They have a high tolerance for cold weather and thrive in warm areas where the crepe myrtle grows. Thanks to their compact size, they’ll have plenty of room.
Although they share many growing conditions, the hellebore and crepe myrtle are not a perfect match in every way.
There are still some considerations to take into account when pairing the small plant with the tree. Read more to find out how to grow hellebores under the crepe myrtle successfully.
If you’re in search of the perfect companions for your Crepe Myrtle, my article on Crepe Myrtle companion plants will be useful.
Hellebore Under Crepe Myrtle – What To Know
At first glance, both the hellebore and crepe myrtle look like they were made for each other.
They favor the same type of soil, watering, and feeding patterns, and they complement each other when it comes to flowering.
While the hellebore blooms in the spring, the crepe myrtle blooms in the summer, and when the crepe myrtle sheds its leaves in the winter, it allows sunlight to flood the hellebore just when it needs it.
The Charm of Hellebores
Hellebores are charming plants any way you look at them. They’re small with a manageable size. They’re perennials and keep blooming year after year.
Despite their small size, they have large blooms that open up early in the spring. The flowers come in different colors including red, yellow, white, pink, and purple.
Unlike the crepe myrtle, hellebores are evergreen. They have a clumping growth habit with palm-like leaves that loop around the clump.
Even after the flowers have faded in the early summer, the leaves maintain their attractive colors and appeal.
Although it falls short of being a ground cover, planting a few hellebores strategically under the crepe myrtle can have the same effect as a ground cover.
In short, the splash of color these plants bring to the landscape stays in full display all year round.
Crepe Myrtle Growing Conditions
One of the advantages of growing a crepe myrtle in your garden is that the tree hardly needs much care or maintenance.
Once you have the right variety for your microclimate growing in your yard or garden, the tree won’t demand too much out of your time to keep it thriving.
Moreover, the tree can be grown as a shrub or a tree depending on your landscaping needs and the space you have.
The crepe myrtle grows well in moderate to warm Zones between 6 and 9. The deciduous tree has little tolerance for cold winters and thrives in full sunlight.
Always choose a spot that gets between 6 and 8 hours of sunlight a day during the spring and summer. Poor light can impact the blooms year after year.
In the winter, mulch the tree to protect the shallow roots against freezing over.
The soil should be quick to drain and naturally rich. Amend heavy soil with coarse sand, and add silt to sandy soil to get a loamy texture that supports the roots of the tree without losing moisture too quickly.
As for pH levels, the crepe myrtle grows well in slightly acidic soil between 6.0 and 6.5.
While the crepe myrtle prefers warm weather and full sun, it also requires moist soil.
It can sometimes be difficult to maintain moisture in the soil, especially in the peak of summer, but you should water the tree regularly and direct the water to the root zone rather than overhead watering.
The rule of thumb with crepe myrtles is to only allow the top 1 inch of soil to go dry between irrigations.
Hellebores Growing Conditions
Hellebores, on the other hand, seem to tolerate both high and low temperatures. This explains why they thrive in Zones 3 to 9, which overlaps with crepe myrtles.
These perennial plants average 1 to 3 feet tall and wide, which allows them to fit snugly under the canopy of the myrtle.
Light requirements of hellebores are a little complicated. In the summer, they prefer shade, but in the winter, they need some light. Only a deciduous tree like the crepe myrtle would provide this kind of light.
The tree offers shade with its dense canopy in the summer, and when the leaves fall, winter sunlight floods the hellebores when they need it.
When it comes to the soil, hellebores prefer rich soil that drains quickly. However, they don’t like acidic soil, so keeping it neutral will help them thrive throughout the year.
The soil should be moist during the growing season and slightly dry in the fall and winter.
For its small size, the evergreen hellebore needs lots of nutrients. You should feed it twice a year, once in the early spring and another time in the fall.
A slow-release organic fertilizer similar to the one the crepe myrtle needs should do fine.
Although hardy to cold temperatures, sometimes the winter months wear down the foliage. In that case, you will need to cut back the plant in the late winter or early spring.
Benefits of Planting Hellebores Under Crepe Myrtles
Hellebores and crepe myrtles seem to benefit from each other although the evergreen plants get a lot more out of the companionship than the crepe myrtles do.
Here are some of the benefits you’ll get from planting hellebores under crepe myrtles:
- Long Bloom Season: Hellebores are one of the earliest bloomers among perennial plants. By the time the flowers fade, the crepe myrtle starts to bloom in mid to late summer.
- Light Requirements: Hellebores need shade in the summer and light in the winter. Only a deciduous tree could offer that complex light requirement.
- Lush Colors: The hellebores are evergreen perennials. Their lush green colors keep the garden alive even when other plants have shed their leaves.
- Similar Growing Conditions: Both the crepe myrtle and hellebores require well-draining and moist soil. That ensures that both will grow well together with as little work on your part as possible.
Although hellebores under the crepe myrtle do fit together like two peas in a pod, there are some downsides to pairing them that you should be aware of. Here are these considerations.
- Hellebores are toxic. There’s no getting around that fact. The leaves, stems, and even flowers are toxic to small pets. If you have cats or dogs at home, then you will need to keep the hellebores out of their reach.
- The crepe myrtle has shallow roots close to the surface. The shallow roots are usually near the trunk of the myrtle, so you shouldn’t plant the hellebores close to the tree; otherwise, the roots will choke them.
- Space and competition over resources are some other considerations to keep in mind. Allow both the tree and the hellebores enough space to grow and thrive without fighting over nutrients and moisture in the soil.
Best Hellebores Varieties
With dozens of hellebore varieties available in a wide range of colors, choosing a favorite can be tough. Here are some recommendations:
- Anna’s Red: A delightful variety with deep red flowers and pink-streaked leaves.
- Amber Gem: The blooms are golden with pink laces.
- Phillip Ballard: A unique cultivar with dark blue flowers that look almost black.
- Angel Glow: It has pink flowers that turn green as they fade.
Companion Planting Ideas
Both hellebores and crepe myrtles welcome other plants under the canopy of the tree.
Ground covers are always a good idea as well as compact perennials that thrive in partial or full shade.
Some of the ideal candidates to add to the hellebores include ajuga, foam flowers, lungwort, vinca, bleeding heart, and impatiens among others.
When adding new plants to the garden under the crepe myrtle, add them one at a time, and wait for the plant to take before adding the next one.
Space the plants well to allow for growth and airflow. The plants that need partial or full sun should be on the first row under the drip line, followed by those that favor partial shade.
Are Hellebores Perennials?
Hellebores are perennial evergreens. Their leaves stay in good shape throughout the year. They have a life expectancy of 2 to 3 years at most.
When Do Hellebores Bloom?
Hellebores are some of the earliest perennials to bloom. They usually bloom in late winter or very early spring before other flowering plants.
Hellebores need shade in the summer and sunlight in the winter. They will find ideal growing conditions under the deciduous crepe myrtle tree.
Their evergreen foliage stays lush all year round, and their blooms open early in the spring.
Hopefully, you’re now convinced that hellebores are a great choice to pair with your beautiful crepe myrtle trees. Happy gardening!
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