Darrell Blackwelder column: The Christmas rose is a cool-season plant

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 11, 2021

Our landscape plantings are not a major priority during the Christmas holidays; we’re more concerned about decorating with greenery. However, there is a special plant blooming that has an unusual flower and reveals a very special holiday meaning — it is the Christmas rose (Helleboreus niger).  This group of unusual blooming plants are members of the buttercup family. Hellebores are cool-season, low-growing plants with blooms that resemble rose blooms. However, these plants are not in the rose family. Hellebores are quite popular with more than 20 different varieties showcasing different bloom colors, combinations and blooming seasons. These low-growing, evergreen plants display blooms from mid-winter to early spring. Hellebores are often recommended as shade plants, however, filtered sunlight is beneficial for the plant’s health and production of bountiful blooms. They are advertised as a deer-resistant plant that can be utilized in shady locations.

According to legend, a young girl wanted to see the baby Jesus, but was forbidden because she had no gift. An angel saw her weeping outside the manager with her tears falling in to the snow. The tears immediately became beautiful flowers (Christmas rose) which enabled her to visit the baby Jesus with a gift of beautiful glowing blooms. Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/helleborus-orientalis/  for more detailed information on hellebores.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.