Helleborus hellebore

(heal' uh-bore)

Common name: Hellebore, Lenten Rose, Christmas Rose

Family: Ranunculaceae, Buttercup

Height x width: 12-24" x 18-24"

Growth rate: slow to moderate

Foliage: divided, compound or palmate, leathery, coarsely-serrated margins, evergreen

Flowers: nodding white, rose, green or purple; flowers when cool, early

Hardiness: zones 3-6 to 8-9

Soil: moist, organic

Light: part shade

Pests and problems: few, root rots

Landscape habit, uses: woodland, shade garden

Other interest: common names from early bloom; two groups including those with leafy flower stems with terminal flowers, and those with flowers arising directly from the roots

Other culture: many need winter protection

Propagation: seedlings, spring root divisions from mature plants; sow seeds for 7 weeks at 70ºF, 32ºF 8 weeks, then 40ºF until 55º when germination begins


argutifolius(ar-gue-te-fol' ee-us)--zones 6-8, 18-24" x 18", greenish flowers on stems in early spring, coarse texture from gray-green foliage, winter mulch, doesn't tolerate high humidity

atrorubens(a-tro-ruu' bens)--zones 6-8, early plum-purple flowers

cyclophyllus(cii-clo-phil' us)--20" tall, greenish-yellow flowers in early spring, deciduous

foetidus(fe-ti-dus')--Stinking Hellebore, zones 5-9, 18-24" x 18", light green flowers often purple-rimmed on stems, 4-9 narrow, dark evergreen leaflets, name from fetid or bad smelling at close distance

lividus(li-vi-dus')--zones 7-8, 12-18" x 18", greenish flowers, smooth dark green leaves with pale white netting of veins, leaves from the flowering stem

niger(nii' ger)--zones 3-8, 12-18" x 12", variable solitary white flowers 2 1/2" wide in late winter to early spring, 7-9 divided leaves, not tolerant of climate extremes and fluctuations

x nigercors(nii-ger-cores')--argutifolius and niger cross, large white flowers tinted green, coarse jagged-edge foliage

x nigristern(nii-gri-stern')--niger and x sternii cross, large white flowers tinged pink-brown or green outside, often marbled foliage and purplish stems

odoratus(oe-door-ah' tuss)--12" tall, 3-5 greenish flowers in early spring, 3-5 lobed basal leaves, coarsely serrate margins

olympicus(oe-limb' pi-cuss)--spreading white flowers with green tinge, 5-7 leaflets

orientalis(ore-ee-in-tal' iss)--Lenten Rose, zones 4-9, 15-18" x 15", variable nodding 3-4" white to purple flowers in early spring, relatively easy to grow

purpurascens(purr-purr-ass' cens)--zones 4-8, 8-10" tall, greenish to purplish flowers, deciduous

x sternii(stern' ee-ii)--zones 6-8, hybrid of argutifolius and lividus, lime-green to green flowers with purple tint, gray-green foliage

torquatus(tor-kwa' tus)--zones 6-8, dark flowers terminal on leafy stems

vesicarius(vess-uh-care' ee-us)--zones 6-8, 15-18" tall, branched stems, reddish flowers, deciduous in summer, resents transplanting

viridis(vir-i-diss')--Green Hellebore, 15-18" tall,drooping green flowers, 7-11 narrow light green leaflets

Cultivars, other taxa species flowers other
'Aeneus' torquatus green, double  
'Alabaster' x nigercors white, large  
'Altiflorus' niger white, red spots toothed leaves
'Atrorubens' orientalis reddish-purple deciduous, since 1843
Blackthorn Group x sternii white suffused pink, large hybrid
subsp. bocconei multifidus greenish yellow faint cat scent
'Boughton Beauty' x sternii rosy and green compact, rosy foliage
'Celadon' orientalis green, large  
'Cosmos' orientalis white, pink spotted sepals  
'December Dawn'   white, flat, suffused brown  
'Dido' torquatus lime-green, double  
'DLC Hybrids' orientalis mix from breeder David Culp
'Dusk' orientalis dull charcoal-purple  
subsp. guttatus niger white, red inner spots similar habit to species
Ivory Prince ('Walhelivor') hybrid creamy white upright flowers, many
'Louis Cobbett' niger white suffused pink  
subsp. macranthus niger white tinged rose no flower stem spots
subsp. multifidus multifidus green deeply dissected leaves
subsp. occidentalis viridis green as species wider, serrate margins
'Old Ugly' orientalis red inner, green outer viridis hybrid
'Party Dress' torquatus cream, pink, or purple, double  
'Phillip Ballard' orientalis charcoal gray, yellow stamens  
'Pluto' orientalis dark purple  
'Potter's Wheel' niger white, green eye, large grown by division
'Queen of the Night' orientalis dark red  
Royal Heritage strain orientalis mixed colors hybrid from John Elsley
'Sirius' orientalis creamy white, scented  
Wester Flisk Group foetidus yellow-green, red tint narrow leaves, red stems
'White Magic' niger clean white compact
Wolverton Hybrids torquatus pastel mix  
'Zodiac' orientalis pink suffused red  


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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