Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose)

Scientific Name

Helleborus orientalis Lam.

Common Names

Lenten Rose, Christmas Rose


Helleborus kochii, Helleborus officinalis, Helleborus ponticus

Scientific Classification

Family: Ranunculaceae
Subfamily: Ranunculoideae
Tribe: Helleboreae
Genus: Helleborus


Color: White to pink to light rose-purple
Bloom Time: Winter


Helleborus orientalis is a clump-forming, late winter-blooming perennial that grows up to 18 inches (45 cm) tall. It features large, cup-shaped, rose-like, usually nodding flowers, up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, with center crowns of conspicuously contrasting yellow stamens. The flowers typically appear in clusters of 1 to 4 on thick stems rising above the foliage. Flower color is extremely variable, ranging from white to pink to light rose-purple, frequently with interior spotting. Palmate, serrate, leathery, up to 16 inches (40 cm) wide, glossy, basal, dark green leaves are evergreen in warm climates but deciduous in extremely cold winters.

Helleborus orientalis - Lenten Rose
Photo via colouryourgarden.co.uk


USDA hardiness zone 4a to 9b: from −30 °F (−34.4 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).

How to Grow and Care

When planting from seed or division, place the Hellebore into well-draining, organic soil in filtered sun or shady location. The Hellebore plant will return for many years; make sure space will accommodate growth and has proper sunlight.

Hellebores need no more than a few hours of dappled light and grow successfully in shady areas. Plant the Hellebore under deciduous trees or scattered through a woodland garden or shaded natural area.

Soaking the soil in which the Hellebore is growing helps the Hellebore plant to look its best. Hellebore care includes removal of older leaves when they appear damaged. Care for Hellebores should also include careful fertilization. Too much nitrogen may result in lush foliage and a shortage of blooms.

Plant Hellebore seeds in the fall. A 60-day moist chilling period is needed when planting seeds of the Hellebore plant. Planting seed in fall allows this to happen naturally in areas with cold winters. Wait three to four years for blooms on young plants grown from seed. Divide overgrown clumps in spring, after flowering or in autumn. See more at How to Grow and Care for Hellebores.


Native to Greece and Turkey.


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