Spring roses cannot wait for the approaching spring. The plants cheekily open their beautiful blossoms at the beginning of the new year. With little effort and the right care, it is possible to persuade hellebore to bloom every year. Evidence for spring roses is known as early as the 3rd century BC. Their healing properties and toxicity were recorded in ancient herbal books. A few centuries later, the buttercup has not lost any of its popularity. This is evidenced by a large number of new hybrid varieties that are commercially available.


  • Belongs to the buttercup family.
  • Is known as oriental hellebore and spring Christmas rose.
  • The original habitat of hellebore is in Turkey and the Caucasus.
  • Perennial herbaceous plant with serrated leaves.
  • Foliage often wilts and new shoots during flowering.
  • Numerous hybrid forms are commercially available.

Recommended varieties

The list of the most popular spring rose varieties is long. Numerous hybrid breeds impress with their splendor of color and resistance. Here is a small selection of the most beautiful hellebore varieties:

  • Lenten rose ‘Rock’n Roll’ (HELLEBORUS X ORIENTALIS ‘ROCK’N ROLL JP’ GROSSE): The flowers of this hellebore variety are as striking as the name. The double, pink and white stippled flowers are an interesting eye-catcher in the garden. Growth height: 50 – 60 cm, special feature: Can cope with calcareous soil.
  • Lenten rose ‘spring night’ (HELLEBORUS X ORIENTALIS ‘FRÜHLINGSNACHT’): The bowl-shaped, simple flowers of this hybrid are colored green on the inside, the outside is deep purple. Height of growth: 30 cm high and wide, special feature: blooms as early as November.
  • Lenten rose ‘Tango’ (HELLEBORUS X ORIENTALIS ‘TANGO’): The double flowers of this hellebore variety are reminiscent of a swinging tango outfit. The yellow center is surrounded by white-pink potted petals. Height: 50 – 60 cm Special feature: bee pasture
  • Lenten rose ‘Double Aubergine’ (HELLEBORUS ORIENTALIS ‘DOUBLE AUBERGINE’): The flowers of this Helleborus variety impress with their double, aubergine-purple flowers. Offspring raised by seeds are not “varietal”, the flower color is a surprise in this case. Height: 40 – 60 cm, special feature: flowers from January to April.
  • Lenten rose “Yellow butterfly” (HELLEBORUS X ORIENTALIS ‘YELLOW BUTTERFLY’): The simple flowers with their yellow base and red grain create an interesting contrast. Height: 50 – 60 cm, special feature: tolerates chalky substrate.

Location and substrate

Lenten roses are colorful plants. Due to their early blooming season, they transform the garden into a colorful paradise as early as January. If you want to enjoy the eye-catching splendor, you need a suitable location. Shady places are nothing the buttercups can cope with. Hardly a flower forms here, the entire development of the plants weakens. In their original habitat, the Helleborus species are often found at the edge of the forest or under bushes. The partially shaded place promotes flower formation and prevents the soil from drying out too quickly. In the home garden, spring roses also have no objection to a partially shaded location. Direct sunlight is tolerated as long as there is sufficient moisture in the substrate. Otherwise the bloom will suffer and the whole plant will take care.

Conventional garden soil often meets all the requirements of the crops. If you want to promote the resilience and vigor of the spring rose, you can prepare the soil before planting:

  • The soil should be rich in humus and permeable.
  • Small amounts of clay are desirable.
  • Prevent soil compaction by loosening or mulching.
  • Some varieties are sensitive to lime.

Tip : The spring roses, which are related to Christmas roses, need a lot of space with increasing age. This should be taken into account when choosing a location.

Hellebore is rather unsuitable for keeping in a bucket. The area is too small, the plants can only insufficiently develop in the vessels. If you want to try it: choose a large pot and rejuvenate the plants every two years. Conventional potting soil with a large proportion of humus has proven itself as a substrate. Lenten roses in the tub are sensitive to being degraded to a houseplant. If you don’t have a garden, you can cultivate the plants on the large balcony or the partially shaded terrace.

Watering and fertilizing

The floral herald of the approaching spring is a moisture-loving plant. It can cope with short-term drought, but this can have a negative effect on the flowering. Check the substrate regularly and water immediately as soon as the top layer has dried. If you are unsure, do a finger test: the index finger is used to check the moisture level of the floor. If the soil feels dry and crumbly at the fingertip, the time has come to water. The spring rose can cope with a small amount of lime in the water. Only wet feet are an issue that is not a good thing to talk about in hellebore. In order to avoid root rot, the water must be able to seep into the ground quickly.

Helleborus orientalis is a weakly consuming flower beauty. Nevertheless, a hellebore has no objection to an occasional supply of nutrients.

  • In autumn, apply bark mulch, brushwood or dead leaves around the plant.
  • Fertilize with compost or rock flour just before flowering.
  • Use liquid fertilizer between February and May if necessary.

The spring rose does not require any further requirements with regard to the supply of water and nutrients. During the rest of the year, the plant is happy to be left to its own devices.


Today’s breeds of spring roses are relatively undemanding and easy to cultivate. When they move into the garden, the varieties hardly differ. After purchase, the buttercups can be relocated outdoors all year round. The best time for spring roses to flourish is between October and March. These months are the main vegetation period for hellebore, the roots sprout vigorously. While other plants outdo each other with their flowers from April to September, Helleborus orientalis is in a kind of dormancy. If the plant is planted in the garden during this time, it will take longer for the plant to establish itself in the new location and gain a foothold. Planting itself is straightforward:

  • Dig the planting hole.
  • Loosen the soil extensively around the planting site.
  • Mix the substrate with humus and loam.
  • Mix a small amount of pebbles with heavy soils to loosen them up.
  • Use hellebore.
  • Refill earth.
  • Pour on vigorously.

The last point is important and applies to almost all freshly planted plants. In the first few days, the plants are not able to take up water from the ground with their roots. Hellebore must be watered on frost-free days even in the cold season. To protect against frost, it is advisable to protect the young plants with a thick layer of bark mulch or compost. The spring rose is hardy when grown at the new location. So that the plants do not compete with each other for water and nutrients, you should keep a minimum distance of about 25 cm.

To protect against waterlogging, when cultivating in a tub, it is important that a drainage system is placed on the bottom of the vessel. This is usually 2 to 4 cm high and consists of porous, non-rotting material. Fine pebbles, lava chippings or small pottery shards, for example, have proven their worth. The tub should be large enough to accommodate the size and width of Helleborus orientalis.

Tip : To protect yourself from the poisonous plant sap, thick gloves and long-sleeved clothing are advisable when working with and on the plants. In the event of direct skin contact, you should immediately wash the affected areas with clean water. Protect your eyes too.


Lenten roses can be multiplied quickly and easily by sowing and dividing them. The offspring of the varied cultivated forms are not true to the variety. It will therefore remain a surprise which flower beauty will be the next generation of hellebore. The division of the root ball is straightforward and is usually done in late summer or early autumn. Choose a large and well-established plant for propagation. The only tools that are needed are a digging fork, a sharp ax or a spade.

  • Use the digging fork to lift the buttercups out of the ground.
  • The plant is broken up into even segments.
  • A section must have two or more shoots for successful new growth.

Hellebore is extremely loyal to its location and reacts capriciously to repositioning. Make sure that the divided plant parts are placed in the same substrate depth as before. That makes rooting easier. As with planting, you should not come into contact with the sap when dividing the rhizome roots or the rhizome. These can cause skin irritation. Lenten roses increased by division flower faster than cultivated varieties.


As with many flowering plants, growing the seeds of hellebore is a game of patience. Helleborus orientalis is a light germinator, the fine seeds should not be covered with soil. The seeds are harvested as soon as the fruits of the spring rose turn yellow-green and can be easily opened with the hands. It is not necessary to dry the seeds; they can be sown outdoors immediately. Hellebore seeds have to go through a cold spell to break the sprout inhibition. Stratification can also be done in the refrigerator. The seeds are stored for 4 to 6 weeks at ~ 4 ° C. The following points have proven useful when sowing:

  • Use poor soil and sprinkle the seeds on it.
  • Moisten with a water sprayer and rewash regularly.
  • Keep the seed area free of weeds and protect it from birds.
  • When the seedlings have two pairs of leaves, prick out and move.

In the first few days it is difficult to determine what kind of green is currently tipping its through the substrate. For a better overview, it is worthwhile to use a flat container for cultivation. Direct sunlight can damage the sensitive young plants. For this reason, you should choose a partially shaded, sheltered location for sowing.

To cut

The old and withered leaves of the spring rose are pruned in late winter. Proceed carefully and do not damage the newly sprouting parts of the plant. Sharp secateurs and gloves are advisable for this measure. Then clean the tool thoroughly of all plant sap. To curb the self-sowing of hellebore, the inflorescences should be removed immediately after wilting.


The spring Christmas rose is insensitive to domestic winters. A layer of bark mulch or brushwood laid out in autumn serves more to supply nutrients than to protect against frost and cold. Not surprisingly, the robust plants often start to bloom in January. Hellebore in the bucket is an exception. Here it is advisable to protect the substrate from freezing through. For this reason, as a preventive measure, the planter is wrapped in fleece or sackcloth in October.

Note : If the thermometer falls below -15 ° C in winter, the leaves of the hellebore die and sprout again shortly before flowering.

Diseases and pests

Aphids literally like lentils to eat. Or rather the sap of the winter bloomers. The pests can be wiped off by regular wiping with a cloth soaked in washing-up liquid, and the application of diluted nettle brew has also proven its worth. Infestation with the viral disease “Black Death” is rare but fatal. The leaf and flower veins take on a blackish color and the plant slowly dies. Effective countermeasures are not known. Immediately remove the infected spring rose and dispose of the plant in the household waste. In this way, you can contain the spread of the disease.


Lenten rose is one of the few plants that adorns the bare, winter garden with its striking flowers. Their blaze of color is only surpassed by their frugality. Only minor requirements have to be met so that hellebore delights you every year with its wonderfully beautiful flowers.

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