Helleborus: for your December gardens

on Tuesday, 04 December 2018. Posted in News

Helleborus flowers in the middle of winter, and it’s always spectacular - a plant that blooms, even when most garden plants are hibernating. Helleborus (also known as the Christmas rose) treats you to large white flowers with a fantastic crown of stamens at their heart from November to March. The plant can cope with snow or frost: branches might droop a bit, but as soon as the temperatures climb again, Helleborus will straighten up.

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Helleborus niger is most widely available in December. This clump-forming, usually evergreen perennial is loved for its nodding clusters of bowl-shaped white flowers in winter and early spring. The dark foliage consists of multiple smaller leaves. There are various cultivars, usually with white flowers such as the cultivars ‘Christmas Carol’, ‘Dafine’, ‘Shining Star’, and Jushua.

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Helleborus orientalis has yellow, pink and dark purple flowers, and there are also varieties with spotted flowers. Like Helleborus niger, this Christmas rose comes in various sizes, from small enough to be used in a hanging basket through to a tall bush which needs a substantial pot or a big spot in the border.

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• The common name of Christmas rose derives from an old legend in which the plant emerged in the snow from the tears of a girl who had no gift for the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
• In the Middle Ages Helleborus was cultivated by people to keep away evil winter spirits.
• The plant has been known for a long time. The physician Melampus referred to it in 1400 BC.
• Helleborus symbolises pioneering and survival.

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Helleborus is a member of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family. The plant is native to the forests of south and central Europe and west Asia. The plant can be spotted in the wild in the Alps, Carpatrhian and Appenine mountains.

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