Helleborus: Lenten Roses, Snow Roses or Christmas Roses for Winter Colour

Feb 4, 2021

By Veronica 


The hellebore is an undemanding and rewarding plant. We all have a dark corner in the garden that needs to be brightened up; the Hellebore is perfect for it. Tolerant of low light conditions, this winter bloomer adds colour to beds and pots during the cold months.

Christmas Rose: Helleborus Niger

The Helleborus from the Christmas rose family are the first flowering, starting as early as November. Their pure white flowers are highly praised at Christmas time for front door arrangements as well as indoor (as long as it is not too warm).

Their evergreen foliage adds interest all year-round.

Hellebours Niger


Helleborus ‘Christmas Carol’.


Snow roses: Ice n’ Roses Collection



Helleborus  Ice n’ Roses Red and White

The Snow roses are particularly robust varieties, flowering early in the season (From November onwards).

They come in a wider range of colour, from white to pink and purple, to greenish.

They are also more tolerant of light conditions. Indeed, most Helleborus prefer a spot  in dappled shade but you still can have these winter beauties if you have a sunny garden.

Lenten roses or Spring roses: Helleborus Orientalis & Hybridus.

Single, double, plain, spotted, with margins, the later varieties simply offer the widest range of flower colour and shape along with interesting foliage as this one appears marbled or veined on some of these varieties.

They flower from January onwards, providing food for pollinators during the winter.


Helleborus ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Glenda’s Gloss’


Planting in pots:

Since Helleborus is deep-rooted, you should make sure that the pot is sufficiently high when planting in the tub.  Waterlogging should be avoided at all costs, so only use planters with water drainage and add stones or crockery at the bottom. Normal potting soil such as John Innes no. 2 is ideal as it is not acidic.

Helleborus can also be planted in the garden in spring after the flowering period. Before planting, remove the old or damaged leaves and dead flowers so that the newly emerging leaves can develop properly.

Planting in the open ground:


Snow roses are tolerant of a sunny location, whereas Christmas roses and spring roses prefer shade or partial shade from the canopy of larger trees or shrubs. Avoid any location that gets the strong midday sun between 12 and 3pm as this will scorch the foliage.


Helleborus  prefer nutrient-rich and chalky soils. Even heavy soils can suit a long as they don’t get waterlogged. Note that they do not like to be disturbed, so once you have chosen the ideal location amend the soil adequately to avoid having to dig around or move the plant.

After Care

As the flowers fade, they will turn pink or greenish in color, extending the winter flowering period even further. When they start drying, they should be removed to prevent the plant from going to seed.

Before the plants spread their new leaves in spring, remove any that has withered as this will promote new growth and prevent possible fungal diseases.


Helleborus are good for pollinators, however, they are toxic to humans and pets if ingested. But no garden is complete without at least one of these undemanding winter jewels.

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