Growing the Christmas Rose

Growing the Christmas Rose
The Christmas rose is also known as black hellebore. Suitable for zones three through nine, this perennial prefers a well drained, rich soil that is high in organic matter. An alkaline to neutral pH is best.

Some shade is preferred whether it be partial shade or light dappled shade. The plants tend to grow and become established very slowly. Though the perennial plants can be divided, this is seldom necessary.

The Christmas rose can be grow from diivisions. Most hellebores are hard to grow from seed. So, it is best to just let them self sow and move the seedlings to the spot you prefer.

If the summer becomes really hot and dry, the Christmas rose can go dormant until cooler weather returns. During the winter, the leaves can sometimes become dried out and tattered looking if the plant is growing in a particularly windy spot.

The Christmas rose is typically a foot or so in height, but can sometimes reach 1½ feet in height. The root is thick and bulbous.

The evergreen, glossy leaves are dark green. They’re lobed and toothed with seven to nine leaflets. The plant is largely stemless.

Flowering can occur over a long period. These can be solitary in in little bunches. The very showy, three inches wide, nodding blossoms are typically white to greenish-pink. The showy part of the flowers are the five, petal-like sepals, which are initially white and turn pink as they age. The true petals are hardly noticeable. The blossoms contain prominent yellow stamens. The blooms have red spotted peduncles.

The bloom time does depend upon the climate in which the Christmas rose is grown. In mild climates, blossoms will open in winter. In areas where the ground freezes, these flowers can open in early spring.

The Christmas rose was originally native to Egypt. Later, it was introduced to Greece. It was the Greeks that began to call the plants hellebores, which in Greek meant “plant eaten by fawns.”

In classical times, the Greeks and Romans had dedicated this plant to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and the god of war.

Later the leaders in the early Christian church frowned upon the plant because of the role it had played during pagan times when it was associated with debauchery and immorality.

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