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Lenten Rose – Hellebore, Helleborus Orientalis

Today I wanted to share a perennial that I’ve had in my flower bed for a few years – Helleborus orientalis or Hellebore.  I have always known this perennial as the “Lenten Rose”.   But, it’s not a rose at all.  A Hellebore is actually in the buttercup family.

Purple Hellebore, Lenten Rose Flower Arrangement - Hymns and Verses Blog


Why are Hellebores Called Lenten Rose

First, why the names Lenten Rose?    Because, if you live in the northeast, like me, a Hellebore will bloom in February or March (the time of Lent).  In the Northeast, it’s typically the first perennial to bloom in the garden (another early bloomer are Snowdrops).  I love seeing the dark purple petals of my Lenten Rose when there is snow on the ground!  

Dark Purple Lenten Rose - Hymns and Verses Blog

My Lenten Rose is a dark purple color, but I don’t remember the actual variety name.  And, the actual “flower” is not the purple petals.  The petals are in fact, sepals.  And, the flower portion is the stamen.  A Lenten Rose is a very hardy perennial.  Their sturdy, palm-shaped leaves stay green year round here in Pennsylvania.  So, even after the flowers have faded, the plant itself is still attractive.   The leaves do tend to get darker after the are finished flowers blooming.  The flowers typically tend to arch and droop on the plant.  There are some newer varieties where the flowers are more upright. 

Dark Purple Hellebore, Lenten Rose - Hymns and Verses Blog

On one of my last trips to the greenhouse in early March, I spotted three new varieties of Lenten Rose.  They are all quite pretty, but I ended up bringing home the Penny’s Pink.  I’m definitely more drawn to the purple shades.  I still haven’t decided where I’m going to plant this one?   But, it’s been doing great for several weeks still in the grower’s pot.


Lenten Rose in the Garden

Hellebores prefer shade and are common in woodland gardens.  Mine is tucked in a corner between the back of our garage and the screened in porch.  Our outdoor cat loves to lay behind it in the summer months since it’s tall enough to provide some shade.  It gets dappled sun here and has done well.  A Hellebore is a SLOW grower.  I’ve had mine for about 10 years and it’s the size of a small shrub now.   And, they don’t really need to be divided.  The Lenten Rose grows in clump and mine has not naturalized to other areas of my garden.  As far as pruning, the time to prune is when you begin to see the flowers.  Then, you can prune off any brown or broken branches that may. have happened over the harsh winter months.

Hellebore Floral Bouquets

Recently, this perennial has gained popularity with brides for their bouquets.  Below is a beautiful bouquet I found on Pinterest with Hellebores.  Isn’t it gorgeous!!!   The stems are very sturdy and work well in a bouquet.

Purple Hellebore Wedding Bouquet

Source Unknown

The Lenten Rose flowers can be cut and brought inside and make a beautiful cut flower arrangement!  There are some that say they last longer if the bottoms of the stem are dipped into boiling water for a few seconds before placing them in your vase of water.  I just cut mine, brought them inside, and gave them a fresh, angled cut before placing them in the water.  I did read that some of the lighter “flower” varieties don’t last as long in a cut flower arrangement as the darker varieties.  Since I don’t have any of the lighter varieties, I can’t say for sure.  You can also cut the stems off and float the flower heads in a shallow bowl of water.  I’m going press some of the “flowers” using the microwave method I shared in THIS post.

Hellebore, Purple Lenten Rose Spring Flower Arrangement - Hymns and Verses

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little gardening segment!  I love to get outside and dig in the dirt!  I’m by no means a master gardener!   But, I’ve learned a lot over the years by trial and error and from friends and neighbors who also love to garden!  I’ll be sharing more of my flower beds and perennials this spring as things begin to bloom!  Below are a few more posts from my garden you might enjoy!

My Tips for Growing Peonies

Easy to Grow Cottage Garden Perennials

When to Prune a Lacecap Hydrangea

Hellebore Lenten Rose - Learn all about this trendy garden perennial - Hymns and Verses Blog


Donna Tabor

Wednesday 15th of April 2020

It's not Lenton. It's Lenten, meaning pertaining to Lent..


Wednesday 15th of April 2020

You spelled lenten incorrectly in the article! Then you said Helleborus orientalis is called Christmas rose. It is not. Helleborus niger is. While spreading the word about this great plant is wonderful, I hope you will consider making these corrections. Additionally, the second word in the Latin name is not capitalized. It may seem like nit picking but the two plants require a bit different treatment to grow well and spelling is important if people are going to do further research. I didn't read much farther so can't tell you if there are additional errors. Thanks for letting me respond.

Doreen Cagno

Wednesday 15th of April 2020

Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. I can't believe I spelled Lenten wrong and I've corrected it. Also, thank you for sharing the difference between the Lenten and Christmas varieties. While researching for this post, I found several articles that gave me that information. But, I have done more research after your comment and found that you are absolutely correct and have made the appropriate corrections to my post.

Eleanor K Hunzinger

Tuesday 14th of April 2020

Loved your post on Lenten Rose! That's one plant I was not aware of! Thanks Kay


Tuesday 14th of April 2020

" ...a Hellebore will bloom in February or March (the time of Lent)" --- therefore, Lenten Rose.


Tuesday 14th of April 2020

Gorgeous! I love your variety. Mine has darker leaves and a pinkish white flower. They’re all beautiful! I have brought mine in before as cut flowers and they seem to last a long time. The bridal bouquet is so lovely. I love all the interesting flowers being used in bouquets these days.