A race of plants native to parts of Europe and
western Asia. the foliage is deeply divided and
of varying widths, according to the species.
The familiar Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger var.) has
large flowers of white, sometimes flushed with
purple, on nine-inch stalks, and three or four
It has a smaller form in Helleborus var. angustifolius.
Its var. praecox flowers in September.
Helleborus viridis has apple-green flowers and the Lenten
Rose (Helleborus orientalis) has flowers similar in size
to those of Helleborus niger, but varying in colour from
purple and plum shades to purplish-pink, blush
and pure or spotted white.
Helleborus foetidus, called the Stinking Hellebore from
the unpleasant odour of its green and purple flowers,
is a native.
These fascinating plants will thrive in any good
garden soil in partial shade where sheltering
evergreens may protect their blossoms from damage
in wintry weather; the presence of leaf mould
in the soil is beneficial.
Propagate by division of the roots in early autumn
or in spring.
The flowering season is in autumn and winter.
Helleborus – Christmas Rose, Lenten
A foot to eighteen inches.
Flowers white, purple, pink and spotted, December
The “Christmas” Rose family consists
of four or five varieties of Helleborus niger-angustifolius,
major and maximus or altiflius. These have thick
succulent stems, dark green foliage and large
flowers, pure white or slightly tinged with rose,
with a tuft of golden anthers in the middle of
The flowers possess a distinctive and
most delicate scent.
The plants begin to bloom,
in favourable conditions, in December, and remain
in flower, though probably storm-beaten, through
Though they are amongst the hardiest
things in the vegetable world, their petals and
anthers are not proof against constant thaws and
freezings, and the splash of mud from the soil;
and to obtain clean and unspoiled flowers hand-glasses
or some such form of protection should be placed
over the plants; even a rough wooden shelter with
panes of glass laid on the top will make all the
difference to the blooms.
It must be borne in
mind that Christmas Roses are not “everybody’s
flowers”, they have strong likes and dislikes
and it is almost useless to try to grow them against
A deep strong soil with plenty of
moisture suits them best; they may be partially
shaded, and must never suffer from drought at
any time of the year. When once established, they
should be disturbed as little as possible; a light
top-dressing should be scattered among the crowns
before growth begins in the winter.
weather in the summer they may have a few doses
of weak liquid manure. Propagation is by division
of the roots; a sharp knife should be used, and
the operation performed in autumn, before there
are signs of the plant starting into growth.
“Lenten Roses” are more numerous in
variety and easier to grow than the Niger family.
They flower between February and April, and require
the same treatment as the earlier race.
colouring is, as a rule, somewhat sad and low
in tone – dull purples and leaf-greens predominating.
There are now many hybrid and named kinds; the
following are among the best of the older “Oriental”
Helleborus Abchasicus, yellowish white.
Helleborus atro-rubens, reddish purple.
Helleborus Colchicus, plum-coloured.
Helleborus punctatus, spotted purple.
Helleborus viridis, green.
For the Beethovens, Bismarcks, Gladstones and
Cassandras of the new raisers, and their successors
in public favour, the catalogues of the current
season must be consulted.