How to Prune a Lenten Rose


Lenten Rose, known botanically as Helleborus orientalis, is a flowering perennial that is not a rose, but whose flowers resemble old-fashioned shrub roses with a single layer of petals. Its common name, Lenten Rose, comes from the time of year that it comes into bloom in the spring near Lent and the Easter holiday. They are hardy evergreens that grow in a low mounding form and typically reach no more than 18 inches in height at maturity. The flowers bloom in hues of white, palest lavender and pale green and can be used as cut flowers or allowed to go to seed and the plant and self sow. They rarely require pruning but benefit from occasional tidying.

Step 1

Conduct any substantial pruning of your Lenten Rose to control its shape or size in the late spring or early summer after bloom or in the early fall. Cut back the branches to the desired length, removing no more than 1/3 of the plant mass in any single pruning session.

Step 2

Harvest fresh flowers just as they open for use in cut flower arrangements, placing the cut down on the stem at the crown of the plant. Deadhead spent blooms just after they fade if you want to prevent the plant from developing seed heads and propagating itself by seed.

Step 3

Prune away damaged, diseased or otherwise compromised stems and foliage back down to healthy tissue anytime during the year that you see them. Compost the clippings or discard them in the trash if you suspect they harbor disease.

Tips and Warnings

  • Hellebore plant tissues are highly toxic and the cuttings should be gathered and discarded where humans and animals cannot gain access and ingest them.

Things You'll Need

  • Secateurs
  • Long-blade scissor shears


  • University of Vermont: The Loveley Lenten Rose
  • USDA Plant Database Profile: Heleborus Orientalis
  • University of California Davis: Lenten Rose
Keywords: lenten rose, pruning helleborus orientalis, cutting back hellebores

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.