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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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?
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.
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).
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.
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.
Lenten Rose is Deer-Resistant
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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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- I like to use a good-quality, potting soil, garden soil, compost, and perlite when planting. While I make my own compost, you can easily buy it ready-made for use.
- I have used this deer repellent with great success. But now, I’m all about this deer repellent that is systemic instead of topical. This means the plant takes it in as opposed to it just smelling bad. If you want to minimize the work and not use repellents, choose plants that are deer-resistant from this list.
- Hands down this is my favorite hand-weeding tool. You can use it to get underneath roots and loosen soil, and it cuts down on the weeding time because you work much faster.
- But I also love this long, stand-up weeding tool to really get around roses from afar.
- I use this organic fertilizer for roses because the blooms are more prolific and it’s organic.
- And I use this organic fertilizer for my vegetables and herbs in the potager garden.
- You’ll need a sharp set of pruners when working with plants and flowers. I buy a few so I can stash them around.
- I use these garden snips to deadhead and cut flowers from my gardens.
- Where pest and disease problems are concerned, if I need to, I generally use this insecticidal soap or neem oil to help control infestations depending on the issue. When using, only apply when pollinators are less active.
- This is my go-to bait for slug and snail problems with my hostas and dahlias.
- This is my favorite set-and-forget slow-release fertilizer for houseplants, annuals, and container gardens.
- Whenever I stake my peonies or other plants, I generally use these grow-through garden supports because they work really well and keep the blooms upright.
- I use this collapsible bin ALL THE TIME. It is invaluable when working in the beds as it’s light to carry around and folds flat for easy storage.
- Drip irrigation set on a timer is your friend! I love these for my planters, window boxes, and hanging baskets.
- And this four way hose bib allows you to split one spicket into four!
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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.
Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.