When most garden plants are hibernating, the Christmas Rose with its dark green foliage and radiant flowers provides colour in the winter garden.
Purple, white, pink, pale yellow, black or spotted, Christmas roses are the must-haves this winter. Give them a place in the border or fill a couple of baskets. Be tempted by the Garden Plant of the Month for December.
You will never tire of the spectacle of a plant that flowers in winter. The Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) treats you to large white flowers from November to March, with a magnificent crown of stamens at their heart. The Christmas Rose is almost completely unaffected by snow or frost. Although the plant droops a bit, it will straighten up again as soon as the temperature starts to warm up..
The 'sister' of the white Christmas Rose is the Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis). This garden plant has yellow, pink and dark purple flowers and there are also varieties with spotted flowers. The Lenten Rose comes in various sizes, from small enough to be used in a hanging basket through to a tall bush which needs a substantial pot or a place in the border.
In the wild the Christmas Rose grows in mountainous regions in central and southern Europe and Asia Minor. The first known mention of the plant dates from 1400 BC, when the physician Melampus wrote about it. The Christmas Rose travelled to America, where this winter-flowering plant has come to symbolise pioneering and survival.
- Place the Christmas Rose in a sheltered sunny spot. The more the plant is shaded, the fewer flowers the Christmas Rose will produce.
- If the leaves are drooping a bit, it's time to water. After a couple of hours the Christmas Rose will have perked up completely. Don't water when it's freezing. Also treat the Christmas Rose to some plant food once a fortnight. You will be rewarded with extra-long and abundant flowers.