"You don't have to water or fertilize, and deer won't eat them," says Sam Jones of Piccadilly Farm in Bishop, Georgia, who, alongside his wife, Carleen, runs a nursery that specializes in Lenten roses. These plants' sturdy character and long blooming season have meant ever increasing popularity. They make a hardy evergreen ground cover in shaded areas. Naturally drought tolerant, they endure the summer, then put on a flush of new growth in fall and again after flowers appear in late winter and early spring.
Lenten Roses at a Glance
- Light: shade of tall trees
- Soil: organic, well drained
- Moisture: tolerates drought, but not wet
- Spacing: 30 to 36 inches between plants
- Propagation: transplant seedlings in fall
- Nice to know: deer and vole resistant
- Expect to pay: $4 to $35 depending upon size and selection
With greater demand comes opportunity for nurseries to make improved selections. Judith and Dick Tyler of Pine Knot Farms in Clarksville, Virginia, started with the Piccadilly Farm Mix and continue making crosses and strains using Lenten roses they bring home from annual visits to England. Through work with this breeding stock, they have been able to offer the Ashwood hybrids, plants with more vivid and varied colors and flower forms. Exciting innovations include doubled and anemone-flowered blossoms, outward-facing flowers, picotee flowers (a lighter or darker edge), brighter pinks and whites, and new colors such as green, yellow, apricot, and dark velvety purple.