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Helleborus x hybridus (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Helleborus x hybridus (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Zones 2B, 3-10, 14-24, 31-41
Partial SunNo Sun
Partial, Shade
Regular Water
All parts are poisonous if ingested.

Helleborus orientalis

Lenten Rose
Evergreen, Perennials


These distinctive, long-lived plants add color to the garden for several months in winter and spring; they are also appreciated for their attractive, leathery foliage. 

Flowers are usually shaped like cups or bells, either outward facing or drooping; they consist of a ring of petal-like sepals ranging in color from white and green through pink and red to deep purple (rarely yellow). Flowers persist beyond the listed bloom periods, gradually turning green. Blossoms are attractive in arrangements: seal ends of cut stems by searing over a flame or immersing in boiling water for a few seconds. Then place in cold water. Or simply float flowers in a bowl of water.

Mass hellebores under high-branching trees, on north or east side of walls, or in beds. Plants are not damaged by rodents or deer.

Plant in well-drained soil amended with plenty of organic matter. Plants prefer soil that is somewhat alkaline but will also grow well in neutral to slightly acid conditions (H. niger is an exception; it must have alkaline soil). Feed once or twice a year. Don’t disturb once planted; they resent moving and may take 2 or more years to reestablish (if they survive at all). If well sited, however, they may self-sow, and young seedlings can be transplanted in early spring. Offspring may not resemble the parent, but all are attractive. 

Helleborus orientalis
Helleborus orientalis

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Helleborus orientalis

From Greece, Turkey, and the Caucasus. Leaves have no obvious stems. Much like H. niger in growth but more tolerant of warm-winter climates. Basal leaves with 5–11 sharply toothed leaflets; branched flowering stems to 1 ft. tall, with leaflike bracts at branching points. Blooms in late winter and spring; flowers are 2–4 in. wide, in colors including white, pink, purplish, cream, and greenish, often spotted with deep purple.

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