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Helleborus niger

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© RHS

Characteristics

Plant type

Herbaceous Perennial

Habit

Clump-forming

Toxicity

Ingestion may cause severe discomfort; skin irritant

Resilience

Hardiness

H5 (hardy - cold winter)

Colour

Flower

White and Pale Pink in Spring and Winter

Foliage

Dark Green in Autumn, Spring, Summer and Winter

Size

Ultimate height

0.1-0.5 metres

Ultimate spread

0.1-0.5 metres

Time to ultimate height

2-5 years


Preferred common name

Christmas rose

Family

Ranunculaceae


Helleborus can be rhizomatous, herbaceous or semi-evergreen perennials forming a clump of pedate basal leaves, or evergreen with erect, leafy stems. Large, bowl-shaped flowers are borne in loose clusters in late winter or spring

H. niger is a semi-evergreen perennial to 30cm, with pedately lobed, leathery, dark green leaves and 1-3 pure white or pink-flushed white, bowl-shaped flowers up to 8cm in width

Other common names

  • bear's foot
  • black hellebore
  • brumal rose
  • Christmas plant
  • Christopher's herb
  • Christ's herb
  • clove-tongue
  • St Agnes' rose

How to grow

Sunlight

  • Part shade

Aspect

  • North-facing, East-facing or West-facing
  • Sheltered

Cultivation

Thrives in neutral to alkaline soils that are moist, fertile and humus-rich, ideal for heavy clay in partial shade. Provide shelter from strong, cold winds. Mulch annually in autumn

Soil

  • Moist but well-drained
  • Alkaline or Neutral
  • Clay, Loam or Chalk

Propagation

Propagate by seed in pots in a cold frame as soon as seed is ripe or propagate by division after flowering in early spring or late summer

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower borders and beds, Cut Flowers or Underplanting of Roses and Shrubs


How to care

Pruning

Remove faded or damaged foliage as the flowers appear

Pests

Prone to hellebore aphid and snails

Diseases

May be affected by hellebore leaf spot and a virus