How to Get Helleborus to Bloom


Over twenty species of Helleborus are available for garden planting, including the Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis), Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger), and the Stinking Rose (Helleborus foetidus), as well as numerous cultivars. These hardy plants can be slow to get established, but given the proper conditions--moist, organically rich soil in a shady location in zones 4 and southward--they will develop spreading colonies which bloom reliably each year beginning in late winter, weeks before the earliest spring crocus.

Step 1

Dig one hole for planting each hellebore plant 2 feet across by 12 inches deep, in a shady, sheltered location, using shovel. Dig out an extra 4 inches from the bottom of the hole and refill with a mixture of sand and soil if the area is not very well-drained.

Step 2

Place 1 gallon of well-aged compost in the hole, then refill with soil dug from the hole.

Step 3

Use shovel to create a small hole in the center of the refilled soil and compost of sufficient size for the hellebore plant. Remove plant from its nursery or shipping packaging.

Step 4

Place roots gently in the hole. Hold the main stem at its base even with the level of the ground, and refill the hole around the roots. Tamp down firmly.

Step 5

Water the helleborus plant regularly until new growth begins to appear, keeping the soil moist but not saturated. Top dress with additional compost before snow cover settles in, or in late autumn in more southerly regions.

Step 6

In late spring, gently prune away leaves and stems that were damaged by winter snows or winds, using sharp pruners. Water the helleborus through the summer whenever the ground is dry, and top dress with compost again in late autumn. The plant should begin blooming annually by the second spring of growing.

Tips and Warnings

  • Helleborus is poisonous; do not eat it.

Things You'll Need

  • Hellebore plants
  • Compost
  • Sand (optional)
  • Water
  • Shovel
  • Pruners


  • University of Illinois Extension: Lenten Rose
  • University of Vermont Extension: The Lovely Lenten Rose
  • Arkansas Gardener Magazine: Hellebores
Keywords: hellebore flowers, helleborus orientalis, lenten rose

About this Author

Cindy Hill has practiced law since 1987 and maintained a career in freelance writing since 1978. Hill has won numerous fiction and poetry awards and has published widely in the field of law and politics. She is an adjunct instructor of ethics and communications.