Helleborus niger

Christmas Rose, Black Hellebore


A highlight of the garden in winter, Helleborus niger is a dark, leathery evergreen perennial which bears erect stems of beautiful bowl shaped white flowers, often tinged pink in bud.


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Origin: The Alps
Genus: Helleborus
Species / Cultivar: niger
Common Name: Christmas Rose, Black Hellebore

Plant Biography

Helleborus niger is native to mountainous regions of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. Despite being commonly called the Christmas rose, it is in fact in the buttercup family (Ranunculacea).

Whilst nowadays we see this as a genteel traditional cottage garden favourite, in ancient medicine it was famed as a purgative – regularly prescribed by the likes of Hippocrates in the 5th Century BC. It has also been used in a variety of other folk medicines across the ages, despite being extremely poisonous to ingest.

Helleborus niger
Soil: Moist but Well Drained
Soil that allows water to drain at a moderate rate, without the water pooling.
Growth Rate: Medium
Expect to see moderate growth during growing season.
Water Requirement: Medium
Once it is established, this plant is likely to only require watering during drier periods.
Maintenance: Low
Minimal skill or input needed beyond the basics, a very independent plant.
Situation: Part Shade
Enjoys several hours of direct sunlight but may enjoy dappling or shade at midday.
Eventual Height: 0.3m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 0.4m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Fully Hardy
Will survive unprotected outdoors in most areas of the UK, even in the harshest winters.
Habit: Evergreen
Always in leaf throughout the year. It won't lose all its leaves at any one time.

Expert Tip

Hellebores love deep fertile soil and dislike root disturbance, so avoid planting in shallow pots or beds. This plant is toxic to ingest so remember to wash your hands after handling.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Most gardeners leave Hellebores as an easy low maintenance evergreen.

However, the plant’s leaves can sometimes have a tendency to become somewhat dishevelled as flowering approaches. Show gardeners seeking a more pristine effect will often remove hellebore foliage in early winter to let the flowers appear in full naked glory!


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