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

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.

Here are 5 reasons why!

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close up of pink hellebores (lenten roses)

About 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. CLICK HERE for 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. CLICK HERE for toxicity information.

So why plant them?

close up of pink lenten rose hellebores

5 Reasons to Grow Hellebores This Year

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)

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 the 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, avoid overwatering plants and make sure they are planted in well-draining soil.

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

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

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

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.

Want to Learn More About Lenten Roses? Watch the Video

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

More About Growing Hellebore Flower

Are you already growing hellebores in your garden? I would love to know more in the comments below.

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purple hellebore flower (lenten rose)
Stacy Ling with her book the bricks n blooms guide to a beauitful and easy care flower garden

If you’ve always dreamed of bringing country charm to your home while creating a beautiful, relaxing space, I got you! Learn how to grow flowers in even the smallest of spaces with my easy-care, low-maintenance approach.

Garden Supplies I Use

Since I’ve been gardening for well over twenty-five years, I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites that I use in no particular order.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

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lenten rose care graphics with lenten rose background
close up of purple hellebores
Bricks 'n Blooms at the NJ home and garden show booth

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chinese evergreen and white amaryllis flower with a clock

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Stacy Ling

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I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as finding ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes.

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close up of purple lenten rose - hellebores

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28 Comments

  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

      Pinned

      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.