The Christmas rose, a winter treasure

In the family of rare flowers that bloom in winter, ask for the hellebore ... The magic of Christmas in all its splendor!

Among the 15 species of hellebores, the christmas rose is helleborus niger or "black hellebore" with ... white flowers (its roots are black!). Delicate but rustic, elegant with its 5 cut sepals, and surprising in all seasons, it has evergreen green foliage * and it flowers from December until early spring.

Piercing even under a layer of snow, braving the cold, it symbolizes strength and hope. The Christmas legend has it that the hellebores would be the gift for the baby Jesus born to a simple shepherdess whose tears of poverty were transformed into magical flowers by an angel.

  • Hellebore, the Christmas rose
  • Hellebores, the flowers of the cold

New generation hellebore

The other hellebore one of the best known is the helleborus orientalis, or Lenten rose, appreciated for its very long flowering and its adaptation to drought. She would be the easiest of all.

So far, the different hybrids have made it possible to expand the color palette of these flowers, ranging from white speckled with powder pink to purple and even green for Helleborus argutifolius. This year, discover the latest hybrids created which combine the qualities of these two varieties: Madame Lemonnier (pink) and Paradenia (white) ** hellebores.

Rare and precious the Christmas rose

If you find them in the mountains during a walk in the Alps, for example, where they flourish naturally, be careful, these are protected species and, moreover, very toxic.

In general, it (we say a hellebore!) Likes shade or partial shade as well as rich, heavy but drained and cool soil. It dreads drought, mulching is therefore essential. The experts of the Small Rustica Treatise on Perennials, (at Rustica editions) advise "to spread a layer of compost at its base and to surround it with a litter of dead leaves". You can also use flax sequins or bark mulch.

Lovely in the garden or in an "undergrowth" atmosphere, hellebore also supports life in a pot but always outdoors and in the shade (balconies, terraces, window borders). You can bring them in for a few days during the holidays to decorate your interior, favoring rooms with little heating, before replacing them outside while avoiding, however, any thermal shock.

A gift of winter

Take advantage of the holiday season to acquire one, then plant it in the spring (this is also the time when you can multiply it). Do a good digging, add compost, take care of its roots and choose its location well because thehellebore don't like to be moved. Be patient as you may have to wait two or three years before you see it flower, but then, under ideal conditions, it is a very easy-going plant.

It will be enough to cut its old foliage so that the new one, when it points, can grow well. And if you decide not to cut off its withered flowers, the hellebore will reseed itself. Then let it multiply naturally and transplant it wherever you want.

* Some species are however deciduous such as helleborus atrorubens and helleborus cyclophyllus.

Claire Lelong-Lehoang

  • Hellebore, the Christmas rose
  • Hellebores, the flowers of the cold

Visual credits: Hellébore 1: © Beppenob - Hellébore 2: © Lucaar - Hellébore 3: © Anitasstudio - Hellébore 4: © Alison Bowden -