Christmas rose – Helleborus niger
When a large part of nature is in hibernation, the Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) already have their big show in December in the garden, on the terrace or on the balcony. The wonderful, striking white flowers delight garden lovers every year anew. The robust and easy-care Christmas rose is undeniably the queen of winter-flowering perennials.
The hellebore (Helleborus niger), also called snow roses or black hellebore (see section “Naming”), is a perennial of the genus hellebore (Helleborus) and belongs to the family of buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). This perennial with its strikingly large, white flowers is best known for its early flowering.
On our continent, the Christmas rose grows in southern central and southern Europe as well as in the southern and eastern Limestone Alps, in forests and bushes. It occurs up to an altitude of 1900 meters and can only be found in Switzerland at a few locations in Ticino.
The origin of the Christmas rose in Southeast Asia. It can be assumed that various hellebore species immigrated to Europe after the last ice age, ie around 20,000 years ago, where they were first cultivated in monastic gardens and later reached the cottage gardens.
The evergreen and perennial shrubs reach stature heights between 10 and 30 centimeters. On the rhizomes of the powerful rhizome sit the long-stalked and fan-shaped leaves. These are rich green, robust and leathery. In addition to the very beautiful flowers, it is just the evergreen leaves, which ensure the year-round attractiveness of this perennial.
The white, cup-shaped and symmetrical flowers stand on the mostly unbranched stems well above the leaves and reach a diameter of 5 to 6 centimeters. The main flowering period of the Christmas rose is from December to March, but depending on the weather, amount of snow and altitude, it can also begin in November or end in April. The white or reddish bracts change color during the flowering. Often they fade slightly, then change to greenish to reddish. They are preserved for a long time. From the bloom cladding later form the so-called follicles, which is typical of buttercup plants. This already causes mature seeds in early summer.
Like many buttercups, the Christmas rose is poisonous and the sap may cause skin irritation. Nevertheless, poisoning cases in children or pets are extremely rare to unknown.
Location / use
The Christmas rose likes a nutrient-rich and humus-rich soil. It is also important that she can develop undisturbed and has a good drainage, because it does not tolerate waterlogging. Under these conditions, this perennial is extremely long-lived and spreads to large groups of plants.
Protected locations in partial shade of trees are preferred. In winter, the perennial there enjoys the gentle rays of the sun, while in summer it is protected from excessive heat.
The Christmas rose can also be kept in the pot. However, this should be large enough and above all high, as this perennial is a deep root. Only then does the Christmas rose feel well in the long run. Preferably, high quality potting soil, which is best mixed with loamy garden soil, should be used. On the bottom of the pot a drainage layer with eg expanded clay (Lecca) is recommended.
The Christmas roses have a magnificent effect in groups, as their foliage and their flowers stand out well from the wintry garden. When the flowering time is over, the beautiful foliage adorns the garden as an ideal ground cover and gap filler. Christmas roses can be wonderfully combined with bulbous plants such as tulip (Tulipa), snowdrop (Galanthus) or crocus (Crocus) and other perennials such as cranesbill (Geranium), lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis), columbine (Aquilegia) or silver candle (Cimicifuga) become. They work especially in groups or scattered easily as underplanting of shrubs or trees wonderful. Their flowers show up well there before the woody plants drift. Woody plants, which can be combined well with the shrub, for example, are flower dogwood (Cornus),
Even in the pot maybe decorated with spring bloomers, the Christmas rose looks very pretty as a bouncer or balcony decoration. Even in floristry, the Christmas rose can be used in many ways.
Once well grown, the Christmas rose hardly needs any more care. She is tough. Her flowers survive even heavy frosts, and dry periods in the summer do not bother her.
However, it is important that a soil cover of leaves, fresh compost or shredded garden material is on the perennial all year round. So the earth is perfectly ventilated by the earthworms and supplied at the same time with fresh nutrients. With this easy care, the clumps grow bigger, stronger and more flowering every year.
In potted crops, the root ball must be protected from excessive freezing by packing the vessel and wintering in a sheltered place.
Numerous popular names such as Christmas rose, snow roses or black hellebore point to a mythological tradition.
The popular name “Schneerose” refers to the extremely early flowering period, while “Christrose” refers to the tradition of cultivating them in such a way that the flowers unfold at Christmas. There is also a pretty narrative:
On the way to Bethlehem, one of the shepherds did not carry a present. Because he had nothing and also found no flowers during the cold winter, he cried bitterly. Tears fell to the ground, and from them sprouted flowers as beautiful as roses. Blessed the shepherd brought the “Christian Rose” as a gift to the Jesus child.
Also the name “black hellebore” is common and indicates the use as sneezing powder as well as the black rhizome.
Around the Christmas rose various legends entwine themselves:
The Greek shepherd Melampus is said to have been the one who discovered the beneficial, laxative properties of the Christmas rose when he was guarding animals. He passed on his findings to the students of Hippocrates.
Greek mythology confirms the reputation of Melampus. Proteus, the ancient sea god, had great visionary powers and the gift of transformation. So he could take the look of different animals to escape enemies. These constant transformations had so mentally confused his daughters that they considered themselves cows. Only Melampus could cure the insanity of the daughters. As a thank you, Proteus gave him one of his daughters.
In recent studies Nieswurze are considered an excellent remedy for insanity. However, these therapeutic properties were obviously already known to the Greeks, as the legend of the healing of the daughters of Proteus proves. Basically, the Christmas rose symbolizes salvation from fear.
in 1 liter pots