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Growing Helleborus, or Christmas Rose

Perennial, Renunculaceae

Helleborus is one of spring's earliest bloomers. You can find it growing along with, or even before, the crocuses appear. Native to Europe and western Asia, these attractive perennials have a long blooming period. Helleborus is an evergreen plant, with leathery leaves. Most varieties grow 1' to 1 1/2' tall.

You can find Helleborus, or Christmas Rose blooming under trees, or in naturalized settings.  Bowl or saucer shaped flowers grow in clusters, in colors of pink, white, mauve, light purple, and rose.

Helleborus plant, flowers, and roots are poisonous. Deer will not bother them. Moles and voles will leave them alone, too.

Other Names: Christmas Rose, Lenten Rose

Helleborus flowers have a rose-like shape. It is sometimes called the "Christmas Rose", because in warmer areas, it can be found blooming in December at Christmas time. In colder regions, it blooms in spring around Easter, and is referred to as  the "Lenten Rose".

Helleborus looks great in the flower garden, and in naturalized settings. Plant them under deciduous trees, where little else will grow after the leaves are back on the trees.

Propagation of Helleborus Plants:

You can propagate Helleborus through seeds, or division of rhizomes from established clumps.

Dig up and replant rhizomes in the late spring or summer, after the blooming period is over. Prior to transplanting, add plenty of compost or other organic matter at the new site, and mix it into the existing soil.

How to Grow Helleborus:

Helleborus is easy to grow, low maintenance perennial. The plants thrive in light to full shade.

The soil should be rich, but well draining. Mix in organic matter or compost prior to planting. Being a very early bloomer, they do well in cold soil, but do not like the hot soils of summer.

The soil should be moist, but not wet. The rhizomes can rot in extended periods of wet soil.

After the blooming period, allow the plant to continue to grow, to "re-charge " the tubers for next year. Deadhead the spent blooms, to promote new foliage.

Flowers Bloom: Late winter to very early spring, shortly after the soil begins to thaw.

Provide winter wind protection for Helleborus. In the spring, the leathery evergreen leaves could be scorched or tattered. Remove any winter damaged leaves.

Insect and Disease:

In wet weather, Helleborus can experience leaf spot and crown rot.


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