Unleash winter blooms! Lenten rose care made easy. Plant, grow, and enjoy hellebore magic all season long with these simple tips.

Hellebores, also known as Lenten roses, are a beloved addition to any garden for their early and long-lasting blooms, ease of care, and shade tolerance. These hardy perennials not only add vibrant color during the late winter and early spring months when little else is in bloom, but they also require minimal maintenance once established.

Whether you are looking to brighten up a shady spot or add year-round interest to your garden, planting hellebores offers numerous benefits that make them a gardener’s favorite.

Interestingly, I haven’t mentioned much about lenten roses through the years. And that’s because I hadn’t planted them.

Not sure why that is, but I did not fully appreciate them. Until now! A great gardening friend gifted me the stinking hellebore so I did have one plant. But I’m not sure why I didn’t gravitate to these shade-loving plants sooner.

Whatever the case is, I am in LOVE with them now because my new gardens are full of them. And since we are in the prime of spring gardening season, you’ve got to plant some hellebores in your garden this year.

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close up of pink hellebores (lenten roses)

Understanding the Lenten Rose Plant

Lenten Rose (Helleborus x Hybridus) is a perennial hyrbrid that hails from the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). It is not part of the rose family, although the name is a bit deceiving.

The blooms are rose-like, but hellebores get their name from when they bloom, which is during the season of Lent. Lenten roses flower in late winter with an extended bloom time, and are a welcome sign of the gardening season to come.

Hardy to zones 4-9, the lenten rose flower colors range from whites, to pinks and purples.

Hellebores grow gorgeous leather-like evergreen leaves. The height of maturity is roughly 12-18″. It prefers partial shade to shadier locations with moist, well-drained loamy soil that is neutral to alkaline.

The lenten rose plant is known to be toxic to animals. Read this article regarding toxicity information for your pets. They can also be toxic to humans, so do not ingest them and wear gloves while working with them in the garden. While they are toxic to animals and humans, the key is to handle them with care or plant them in a location where pets and humans can’t access them.

  • Genus: Helleborus
  • Common Name: Hellebore
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Light: Partial to full shade
  • Soil Requirements: Moist, well-drained, rich in organic matter
  • Height: 1-2 feet
  • Width: 1-2 feet
  • Flower Color: White, pink, purple, yellow, green
  • Foliage Color: Green
  • Bloom Time: Late winter to early spring
close up of pink lenten rose hellebores

Benefits of Growing Hellebores

If you are not growing lenten roses yet, you should! Here’s why.

Lenten Rose (Hellebores) Bloom Early and Long

If you want to early blooming flowers in your garden, look no further than the lenten rose. Because they start flowering in late winter and have a long bloom time that can last about 6 months, hellebore plants are a great early blooming flower for the cottage garden.

Mine here at the new house started blooming in March before the daffodils started flowering and are still blooming profusely today. I truly did not appreciate the beauty of the hellebore flower and what they do in the garden until now.

It’s been so fun discovering where my hellebore flowers are coming up here at the new house. And they make great cut flowers to bring indoors and make arrangements.

close up of pink and white hellebores (lenten rose) in the front porch garden with copper linda vater plant support

Hellebores are Easy Care Perennials

If you want to grow a garden that requires minimal work from you, plant the lenten rose. It not only blooms early in the growing season, but it is also super easy to care for!

Simply cut back brown or deceased foliage in winter on a warm day after you see new foliage emerge and the hellebore will do the rest.

Keep them hydrated and mulch them well, but once established they can take drier conditions. (The New Jersey weather seems to do a good job on its own because I’ve done nothing for mine here and they are doing well).

close up of purple lenten rose (hellebore flowers) that are purple

Hellebore Plants Grow and Bloom in the Shade

If you are looking for an easy-care perennial that grows and blooms in shadier locations, lenten rose is a great option for your garden. The hellebore plant prefers shadier locations, so woodland gardens in particular are great spots to grow them.

While flower color fades as summer approaches, blooms can stick around for about 6 months.

Lenten roses do not need to be fertilized. To nourish these gorgeous perennials, simply amend the soil with good organic matter like compost and mulch that will break down over time and enrich the soil.

stinking hellebore lenten rose in shade garden with different hosta varieties, variegated willow and wine and roses weigela and joe pye weedhappy gardening in the backyard garden
Stinking hellebore in the bottom far left next to the hostas.

Lenten Rose Hellebores Are Easy to Propagate

If you want to grow your garden for free, hellebore propagation is the way to go. And the lenten rose is easy to divide or grow from seed.

They prefer not to be dug up and moved but can take divisions and can bloom more profusely the following growing season.

Hellebores do best when mature plants (have had three seasons of flowers) are divided in late spring. While transplanted divisions can bloom in their first season, don’t fret if they don’t. They may take some time to establish and develop a good root system.

Lenten roses are also easy to start from seed but require a stratification period (a chill period) to help seeds germinate.

And they seem to reseed themselves as well too.

close up of lenten rose flower - Hellebore flower in spring at my 1850 farmhouse

Lenten Rose is Deer-Resistant

If you have problems with deer like I do here in New Jersey, hellebores are a great deer resistant option because you won’t need to worry about like other perennials.

Deer can sense when a plant is toxic and will avoid eating them. The leather-like leaves are also less palatable to them. And while deer will dine on anything, lenten roses are perennials that they typically avoid.

Therefore, hellebores are a great early blooming plant for the cottage garden in localities where deer damage is prevalent.

close up of pink hellebore flowers (lenten rose) in a vibrant shade garden

Planting Hellebores in Your Shade Garden: A Step-By-Step Guide

Hellebores thrive in partial to full shade. They prefer a spot where they can get some morning sun but be shaded during the hottest part of the day. Too much sun can scorch their leaves, while too little light can reduce blooming.

Hellebores prefer well-drained, fertile soil rich in organic matter. Hellebores prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6.0-7.0).

Conducting a soil test is a crucial step in preparing your garden for planting bearded irises. A soil test helps determine the pH level and nutrient content of your soil, providing essential information for optimal plant growth. Kits are available at your local cooperative extension and garden nursery.

To conduct a soil test, collect soil samples from different areas of your garden and mix them together. Send the composite sample to a local extension service or use a home testing kit. The results will guide you in making necessary amendments, such as adjusting pH levels or adding nutrients, ensuring that your bearded irises have the best possible growing conditions.

Incorporate compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility and structure. Avoid planting lenten rose in heavy clay or waterlogged soils. If necessary, create raised beds or amend the soil with sand and organic matter to enhance drainage.

Planting Hellebores: A Step-By-Step Guide

Plant hellebores in early spring or fall when the weather is cooler. Space plants about 15-18 inches apart to allow for growth and airflow. Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball.

Gently remove the plant from its pot, loosening the roots if they are compacted. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring the crown (where the stem meets the roots) is at soil level. Backfill with soil, firming it gently around the plant.

Water thoroughly after planting and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged until the plant is established. Apply a layer of mulch to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature, keeping it away from the crown to prevent rot.

Watering Tips for Thriving Hellebores

Water newly planted lenten roses regularly until they become established. But keep an eye on them because it’s important not to overwater them. How much you water will depend on the weather in your climate.

Since I typically plant mine in spring or fall, I let nature do its thing because we get enough rain here and the temperatures are cooler. When they are established, reduce watering thoroughly to roughly once or twice a week depending on the weather in your climate.

Hellebores are fairly drought-tolerant once established but may require more watering during periods of extreme heat or dryness.

Fertilizing Hellebores

Lenten rose does not need to be fertilized. Instead, focus on providing the plant with good-quality soil. Amend the soil with compost, and leaf mold, then top it off with some fresh mulch. Over-fertilization can lead to leggy growth, fewer blooms, and invite pest and disease problems. The only time I fertilize perennials is when they are planted in pots.

planting hellebores in A garden bursting with colorful blooms, including vibrant Virginia bluebells, features primarily pink, blue, and yellow flowers. Tall green leaves add greenery to the foreground. A cozy, beige cottage is partially visible in the background, surrounded by trees and greenery.

Growing Hellebores in Pots

Growing hellebores in pots are a popular option for gardeners who have limited space or want to add a burst of color to outdoor living spaces where planting in the ground is not feasible.

Choose a container with a diameter of at least 12 to 16 inches and a depth of at least 12 to 18 inches depending on the size of the plant you purchase. Make sure the container has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape and prevent waterlogging.

Use a well-draining potting mix. Plant one plant per container and maintain them in part to full shade. Rotate the container periodically to ensure even sunlight exposure on all sides of the plant.

Containers dry out faster than the ground, so it’s important to water them regularly, checking the soil moisture level with your finger or a moisture meter. Avoid overwatering, as soggy soil can lead to root rot. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out slightly between watering. To make things simpler, I like to set my containers on a drip irrigation system with a timer so it’s set and forget.

Fertilize hellebores in containers with a balanced slow-release fertilizer formulated for flowering plants and follow the package instructions for application rates and frequency.

While you can grow them as an annual if you want them to return yearly, plant hellebore varieties that are at least two zones higher than your current hardiness zone. Thus, if you garden in zone 6, you’ll want to make sure your hellebores are hardy to zone 4.

close up of white and pink lenten roses in the garden - growing hellebores in a shade garden

Common Pest and Disease Problems With Lenten Rose

Hellebores are generally robust plants, but they are not immune to certain pests and diseases that can affect their health and appearance. Common pests include aphids, slugs, snails, and vine weevils, which can cause damage to the leaves and roots.

Additionally, hellebores can be susceptible to diseases like black spot, downy mildew, and hellebore leaf spot. Understanding these potential issues and implementing preventive measures can help maintain the vitality and beauty of your hellebore plants.


  • Aphids: These small insects can cluster on new growth, causing distortion and weakening plants. Control with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Slugs and Snails: They feed on leaves, leaving holes and ragged edges. Use organic slug bait or traps.
  • Vine Weevils: These pests can cause significant damage by eating roots. Use beneficial nematodes or insecticidal treatments.


  • Black Spot: Causes black spots on leaves, leading to defoliation. Remove affected leaves and use fungicides if necessary.
  • Downy Mildew: Yellow spots on the upper leaf surface and gray mold underneath. Improve air circulation and apply fungicides.
  • Hellebore Leaf Spot: Fungal disease causing brown spots on leaves. Remove affected foliage and apply appropriate fungicides.

Prevention and Management

Ensure good air circulation to reduce humidity. Remove and destroy infected plant material. Monitor plants frequently to catch problems early. And overall, be vigilant and take preventive measures so you can keep your hellebores healthy and thriving.

purple hellebore flower (lenten rose)

Companion Planting For Hellebores

Companion planting enhances the beauty and health of your hellebore garden by pairing them with plants that have similar growing conditions and complementary aesthetics. Here are some excellent companions for hellebores:

  1. Ferns: Their delicate fronds provide a lovely contrast to the bold, leathery leaves of hellebores. Both thrive in shady, moist environments.
  2. Hostas: These shade-loving plants offer diverse foliage textures and colors, creating a lush understory with hellebores.
  3. Epimediums: Known for their attractive foliage and spring flowers, epimediums make a great ground cover that complements hellebores.
  4. Snowdrops (Galanthus): Their early spring blooms coincide with hellebore flowers, adding to the garden’s seasonal interest.
  5. Pulmonaria: With their spotted leaves and early blooms, lungworts enhance the visual appeal of hellebores and share similar soil and light preferences.
  6. Daffodils: These early spring bloomers provide bright, cheerful flowers that pair well with hellebores and help deter pests like rodents.
  7. Astilbe: Known for their feathery plumes and shade tolerance, astilbes add height and texture to hellebore plantings.
  8. Brunnera: Also known as Siberian bugloss, brunnera’s heart-shaped, silvery leaves and blue flowers complement the foliage and blooms of hellebores.
  9. Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra): Their unique, heart-shaped flowers and preference for shade make them a perfect companion for hellebores.
  10. Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica): These spring ephemerals provide a burst of blue flowers that beautifully contrast with hellebore blooms.

When planning your garden, consider these companions to create a visually stunning and healthy garden environment for your hellebores.

A vibrant garden scene showcasing blooming pink hellebores in the foreground, with a background of yellow daffodils and lush greenery, enclosed by a green metal fence.

Favorite Varieties of Lenten Rose

Each of these plants is from Proven Winners. Some are double-flowering blooms while others are single. Each is beyond gorgeous and a few are newly planted here in my gardens.

  • Honeymoon Paris in Pink
  • Wedding Party Dark and Handsome
  • Honeymoon Irish Luck
  • Wedding Party Mother of the Bride
  • Honeymoon Tropical Sunset
  • Wedding Party Brushing Bridesmaid
  • Wedding Party Maid of Honor
  • Honeymoon Vegas Nights
  • Wedding Party Wedding Bells
  • Wedding Party Dashing Groomsman
close up of purple hellebore flowers in the flower garden

Commonly Asked Questions About Growing Lenten Rose Plant

What is the problem with hellebores?

In general, hellebore plants are pretty trouble-free, resilient, and easy to care for. However, sometimes bad things happen to good plants. You might see problems such as fungal diseases, aphids, and slug or snail damage. When this arises, check your watering practices and look at soil drainage.

For slug or snail damage, I recommend using an organic slug bait to help protect plants and minimize damage.

Do hellebores need to be deadheaded?

Deadheading hellebores, or removing spent flowers, is not strictly necessary for the plant’s health, but it can be beneficial for aesthetics, controlling seeding, and promoting new growth. That said, I never deadhead mine and just leave them be.

Do all hellebores spread?

Yes, all hellebores self-sow and therefore, will take it upon themselves to spread around your garden. I love this about growing them, but not every home gardener does.

This could result in different hybrids when they are grown close together, which, you may or may not want. If you don’t want them to hybridize, thin out seedlings that crop up closer to mature plants.

pink hellebore flowers (lenten rose) in the garden

Is hellebore toxic to dogs?

Yes, the hellebore plant is toxic to animals, including dogs. It has a horrible taste so older dogs may stop themselves from eating it, but the greater concern is around puppies who might mouth, chew and eat the plant without consideration. You’ll know your dog got into it if you see vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and lethargy.

Because they are toxic to dogs, it’s a good idea to keep pets away from the hellebore plant or watch them when they are around your garden at all times. I have black labs who love to mouth things. My dogs have never, even as puppies, mouthed them but I wouldn’t for a second believe it wasn’t possible.

Where is the best place to plant hellebores?

The best place to plant hellebores is in moist, well-drained soil that is neutral to alkaline. Lenten rose has a USDA Hardiness Zone of 4-9 and prefers dappled sunlight, and partial to deep shade. Plants grow from 12-18 inches tall and wide, so plant them toward the front of a flower garden border.

backyard garden with staddle stone, lenten rose with in purple and white flowers (hellebore plant), virginia bluebells and dicentra bleeding hearts by 1850 farmhouse

Can you grow hellebore in pots?

Yes! You can totally grow hellebore in pots. Just make sure you plant them in a weatherproof container and choose varieties that can handle two hardiness zones below your own.

What do hellebores look like in the summer?

During the summer, hellebores look a bit more green than having loads of fresh blooms. These perennial plants may still have some lingering flowers, but will likely be going into dormancy. When hellebores go dormant, the foliage might start to look a bit tired or turn slightly brown. But even during their dormancy, hellebore plants will look green and look amazing in the garden. It just won’t be as prominent as when they were in their prime a bit earlier in the growing season.

What do hellebores look like in the winter?

In the winter, hellebore plants will start to come out of dormancy. You’ll notice new growth at the base of plants and browned-out foliage before the plant starts blooming again. Cut back the dead foliage and watch your plant green up and bloom for the next growing season.

It might seem like that old growth should stay. As long as it’s fully green, you can leave it. But for the most part, you’ll be cutting it back to allow for the new growth to flourish. Just be careful when you cut so you don’t accidentally cut off the new growth beneath!

hellebore plant in winter before cutting it back
My hellebore plant in winter before cutting it back
new buds on a hellebore plant
New buds on a hellebore plant

Final Thoughts About Growing Hellebore Flower

Growing lenten roses is great for gardeners who want to add year-round interest and resilience to their garden. These perennial plants not only offer stunning blooms in late winter to early spring but also provide robust foliage that adds texture and color throughout the year.

Lenten rose has quickly become one of my favorite shade-tolerant flowers and I don’t doubt it will become a favorite of yours too!

With their low-maintenance nature, shade tolerance, and deer resistance, hellebores are an ideal choice for gardeners of all levels. Whether you’re looking to fill a shady spot, create a winter garden showcase, or simply enjoy the elegance of these timeless flowers, hellebores are a fantastic addition to any garden.

Embrace the charm and durability of hellebores, and you’ll find yourself rewarded with a garden that shines through the seasons.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear! And feel free to share this post with anyone you think would find it helpful too.

To drill down on more beginner gardening techniques and tips, please read these posts:

Want to learn more about Hellebores? You can hear more about them and see the hellebore flower in action in my latest video here.

For more information about growing hellebores, please see Clemson Cooperative Extension.

lenten rose care graphics with lenten rose background
close up of purple hellebores
close up of purple lenten rose - hellebores
The bricks \'n Blooms guide to a beautiful and easy-care flower garden book by stacy ling
The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy Care Flower Garden
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  1. Stacy,
    I have loved Hellebores since we )ived in Virgini and I discovered what a great and beautiful shade plant they were. When we moved to N.C.9 yrs ago I made sure t[ bring,some with me and they have spread and self hybridized to my delight. Many of my plants were purchased from PineKnot Gardens in Clarksville Va and it is wonderful nursery. My Master Gardener group used to make a trip in Feb or March to view the beautiful gardens and do lots of shopping. Check out their website.

    1. Oh if I still was able to garden I’d plant these.

      I’m trying to plant some cutting flowers in pots this year.

      I don’t them ridiculously tall do I’m checking the internet


      1. I bet you can grow these in containers if you wanted to try them. I can’t wait to see what you grow!

  2. Great minds think alike! I shared a post on Hellebores this weekend that I think you will love. I hadn’t seen your post when I posted mine, but now that I have I edited it to include one of your photos and a link back to this post, (if that’s okay with you) https://followtheyellowbrickhome.com/hello-hellebores/

    I am happy to feature you this evening at this week’s All About Home Link Party. Thanks for linking up!

    1. I would love that so much Amber. Thank you! I’ll do the same! That is so funny – they look so pretty right now!

  3. These are so pretty! I have never grown these, but am excited to learn about the beautiful blooms! I am excited to feature this post at Tuesday Turn About this week. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Love Hellebores. I’ve not planted them where I live now but I definitely will.
    You have a whole family of them to enjoy. Thank you for bringing these to my attention.

    1. They prefer shade to part shade but I have to say, there are a few planted here in part to full sun and they seem to be fine! It’s definately closer to part sun than full, but its definitely more sunny where they are.

  5. These caught my eye over 25 years ago when I was young and was trying to plant a garden for my mom.
    I ended up taking my original plant from Springhill nursery with me when I moved because I fell in love with it.
    2 houses later, she is still with me along with a about 7 or 8 other friends and she gave me her first baby last year. Lol ( at least I’m assuming it’s hers)
    I would recommend these beautiful plants to anyone.

    1. I couldn’t agree more Teresa. Aren’t they the best? Mine are just about to bloom and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Enjoy them all!

  6. This is wonderful! I love Lenten Roses and had a few bushes at my city house. I saw them all over when I was just in Austria.