The Christmas Rose

Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger

The Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger, is available to brighten the home or garden in December. The flowers have a beautiful, luminous white quality. As a botanist, it has been fascinating to watch how the flowers develop from buds and gradually age.

Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger

The Christmas Rose and its fellow Hellebores are members of Ranunculaceae or the Buttercup family. There are both wild plants and garden hybrids. The stems can flop, but they soon recover with a little water.

The Christmas Rose likes a deep pot to grow in. The potted specimen below has been flowering for several weeks in December. It is still flowering with many buds still to open on Christmas Eve.


Unfortunately, the Christmas Rose does not work as a cut flower because of its floppy stems. Many publications and online resources warn that Hellebores are poisonous if eaten. It can be an irritant with prolonged contact (See book recommendation below for parents*).

There is a trend to display beautiful Hellebore flowers by floating them on water. It is certainly an alternative to the floating Christmas candles of previous years for adults.

Other Hellebores

Has the Christmas Rose inspired your interest in other Hellebores? There seems to be a revival taking place for Hellebores. They flower for several months during the winter when there is little else in flower. They offer gardeners a flower that prefers the shade and winter insects a valuable source of nectar.

A gallery of photos taken of various winter garden displays and at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show 2018 follows.


  • Bourne, V. 2006. The Winter Garden. Cassell Illustrated.
  • Culham, A. 2014. 2014 Advent Botany Day 11 Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger). Culham Research Group. University of Reading.
  • Rice, G. 2008. Hellebores. Royal Horticultural Society. Wisley Handbooks. 2nd Edition. Mitchell Beazley/Octopus Publishing
  • Royal Horticultural Society. 2007. Britain’s Favourite Plants. Over 1,000 plants chosen by the Nation’s Top Nurseries. Think Books. (Hellebores section recommendations by Ashwood Nurseries, pages 270-3).

Book Recommendation

Informative, common sense guide for parents:

*Dauncey, E. A. 2010. Poisonous Plants: A guide for parents & childcare providers. Kew Publishing with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust Medical Toxicology Information Services.

*This books outlines risks related to ingestion or contact with poisonous plants. It gives parents and carers informed advice based on actual levels of reported cases and risk types. It also discusses risks related to the location of poisonous plants with detailed plant risk profiles, rather than merely stating ‘poisonous’. Parents can then make informed choices based on their children’s ages, personalities and likely garden activities. Sometimes plants are already present in a garden when buying a new house.

Copyright Note 

© Karen Andrews

These pages illustrate my love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. I love sharing. This blog is a showcase for my own photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics.

© Karen Andrews 2018 onwards. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Netto (Andrews) and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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