Growing Green Flowers

Adding drifts of green flowers to your garden palette will bring you blooms in all the colors of the rainbow.

| Winter 2017-2018

  • Bells-of-Ireland (Moluccella laevis).
    Photo by Adobe Stock/VrabelPeter1
  • 'Envy' zinnia (Zinnia elegans).
    Photo by
  • 'Jane' hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), sold under the trade name Little Lime.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Gratysanna
  • A hellebore (Helleborus viridis) blooms in early spring.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/GeorgiGerdzhikov
  • Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis) bears delicate floral sprays above scalloped leaves.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Marta Jonina
  • Stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) has an unappealing odor when its leaves are bruised.
    Photo by Flickr Creative Commons/Cristina Sanvito
  • Green hellebores (Helleborus viridis) don't actually have green flower petals--it's the sepals that are green.
    H. Zell
  • Hydrangea flowers are especially well-suited to drying.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Volga River
  • Nicotiana 'Lime Green,' also known as jasmine tobacco, is beautifully scented.
    Photo by
  • Diminutive mountain or alpine lady's mantle (Alchemilla alpina) is a fantastic selection for rock gardens.
    Photo by Flickr Creative Commons/David Short

Gardeners usually associate the color green with foliage and stems. We often don’t consider green blossoms when making out our planting lists, but these showstoppers will complement the other plant selections in a garden and offer a special “wow” factor. If you’re keen to try something a little unique, I encourage you to experiment with the following easy-care, low-maintenance options.


Also known as the Lenten rose, hellebores (Helleborus spp.) are a welcoming sight in cold-climate gardens at the end of winter. They’re early to bloom — March through May — and often emerge while snow is still on the ground. Hellebore blossoms aren’t as ephemeral as many other early spring blooms. An attractive, clumping habit and breathtaking blossoms make these plants a worthy addition to the garden. Hellebores are tolerant of a wide range of soil types but prefer well-drained sites. They’re shade-tolerant but will also be successful in a bed situated in full sun (6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day).

Hellebores aren’t easy to transplant, so consider locations in your garden carefully and try to site them correctly at their initial planting. Although these plants require consistent, even moisture for success, you should avoid boggy sites that will encourage root rot and mold. Amend the soil yearly with a side-dressing of compost.

Wild hellebore species have been in cultivation since the Middle Ages, making them true heirlooms. Green hellebores (H. viridis) don’t actually have green flower petals — it’s the sepals that are green, and occasionally spotted or mottled. Hardy to Zone 4, green hellebores were introduced to North America from central and western Europe. The species has a wide distribution across the United States. It’s often found wild in wooded areas, but can also be cultivated in meadow-style or informal gardens where it’s allowed to spread. Slender stems grow 1 foot tall and bear delicate-looking, pendulous flowers.

Stinkwort or stinking hellebore (H. foetidus) has a disagreeable common name due to the unappealing odor of its leaves when bruised, but the nodding green flowers on tall, graceful stems that grow up to 32 inches are delightful in the early spring garden.


Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana spp.) has long been a favorite in North American gardens. Perfect for either containers or the garden, flowering tobacco is best sown directly in early spring when the ground is warm enough to be worked. Make sure the soil is well-drained and fertile; an amendment with compost at planting time is ideal. Don’t cover the seeds when planting because they need light to germinate.



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