Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 287 Helleborus orientalis

Common Names: lenten rose Family: Ranunculaceae (buttercup or crowfoot Family)
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Lenten rose
The Lenten rose presents its attractive flowers in winter or early spring in colder climates and holds them over a long period for our viewing pleasure.


The subtly spectacular Lenten rose is a herbaceous perennial garden plant that is evergreen in warmer climates and much admired for this trait. Like other members of the Helleborus genus, the Lenten rose blooms in winter, sometimes even pushing through a blanket of snow. The distinctive foliage is dark green and leathery and is one of the plant's most appealing features. The large compound leaves are up to 18 in (46 cm) long and 16 in (41 cm) wide. Each is composed of from 5 to 11 lance-shaped leaflets with sawtooth edges. This plant grows slowly to form a neatly rounded mound up to 16-20 in (41-51 cm) high that is punctuated in winter or early spring by fresh new foliage and attractive flowers. The shy flowers resemble single roses and nod their pretty faces toward the ground. The 2-3 in (5-8cm) blossoms are held above the foliage in loose clusters and are white or greenish white, often have a pink or purplish blush. There are pink, rose and purple varieties as well as white with solid splotches of color with this species being a parent of many beautiful hybrids.


Helleborus orientalis is native to areas of Eurasia including Greece, Turkey and the Caucasus region.


Plant Lenten rose in rich, loose, woodsy soil and fertilize in early spring. This is a slow growing plant that dislikes being disturbed and will be slow to recover when moved. Light: Heavy to light shade. Moisture: Prefers moist well-drained soil but is adaptable to drier situations. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 - 9. Lenten rose is evergreen from about Zone 6 to 9. Propagation: By division in late summer or autumn. Can also be grown from seed but seedlings take three years to bloom.


Lenten rose is perfect for shady patios or courtyard gardens. It is especially suited for small spaces where its subtle beauty can be noticed and appreciated. Lenten rose provides pleasant textural diversion in a bed of hostas and is perfect for moist areas near ponds and water features. Use it in a mixed borders and combine with ferns and other shade lovers in woodland gardens.

Lenten rose plant
Winter or summer, the Lenten rose makes a neat green presence in the garden (although in the the dead of summer the leaves may look somewhat raggedy).


This attractive little evergreen is especially valued for its fine foliage and for the novelty of mid-winter blooms. It is easy to grow and is normally not bothered by pests. In areas where the soil freezes, a midwinter thaw will bring a much appreciated floral display. The flowers are long-lasting and remain beautiful as they slowly fade.

There are several other members of this genus that are also beautiful garden plants. The Christmas rose (H. niger) is not quite as large and blooms a bit earlier than Lenten rose when grown in warm winter areas. The foetid hellebore (H. foetidus) is a smaller plant with smaller light green flowers and leaves that have a foul odor when crushed.


All parts of this plant are reported to be highly toxic. Keep from pets and children.

Steve Christman

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Helleborus species profiled on Floridata:

Helleborus orientalis

( lenten rose )

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