French Kiss Helleborus Photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

Hello Helleborus! Lenten Rose Delights in Spring

There are cool plants, and there are cool growing plants. Helleborus, also known as Lenten rose and hellebore, happens to be both. This outstanding perennial likes it cold, and emerges very early in the season to put on its show just when we winter weary gardeners need it most!

Long before our favorite summer stunners have started any real growth, Lenten rose is in full bloom. The gorgeous cup shaped flowers of this buttercup family perennial are often nodding and come in a smattering of elegant jewel tones.

 ‘Flower Girl’ – Double white to pink blush flowers in early spring, measuring up to 3”. Selected for a floriferous display!

Hellebours ‘Flower Girl’ Wedding Party Series
Photo courtesy of Walter’s Gardens Inc.


‘Mother of the Bride’ – Large double apricot colored flowers with a pink picotee edge. Beautiful soft color. 3” flowers and lots of them!

Helleborus is a tough plant in many ways, but it will perform best in the Cadillac of soils: rich, moist, and well-drained. Give it that perfect combination in youth and it will be resilient once established, which can take a few years (so be patient). It naturalizes well when happy and is a beautiful addition to woodland gardens. It’s best to pick a spot for your Lenten rose and stick with it, as it can be resentful of transplanting. If you absolutely must divide or move it, do so in fall or in early spring after blooming when new leaves are emerging. Avoid disturbing it during the hot summer months.

‘French Kiss’ – Single white flowers with a raspberry edge and center. Loads of 3-3.5” blooms on this spectacular selection.

Rio Carnival Helleborus
Rio Carnival Helleborus

‘Rio Carnival’ – White to light yellow flowers with burgundy centers and lots of speckling. Single bloom, abundant 2-3” flowers.

Choose part shade or shade for Helleborus. Being such lovers of cool weather, they may go dormant in the heat of summer, so protection from the hot midday sun is appreciated. The semi-evergreen foliage often persists through winter if planted in a protected spot, but any foliage that has died over winter may be trimmed away in spring. You may choose to wear gloves when working with this plant, as it is mildly poisonous and could irritate the skin. Nibbling is not recommended, so use caution if you have curious kids or pets. Good for deer and rabbit resistant gardens, as the poisonous quality means it’s usually not bothered by critters.

Paris in Pink Helleborus
Paris in Pink Helleborus

‘Paris in Pink’ – 3.5-4” light pink to medium pink single flowers. Selected for floriferous display. Big flowers!

‘Rome in Red’ – Luscious, moody, wine red flowers. Lots of stunning single blooms that reach up to 4”.

The Helleborus usually go fast when they start blooming in the greenhouses, so come on down and get ‘em while they’re… cool.