Beautiful winter blooms: The winter rose

Posted on: November 18, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

As winter looms, most plants are going to sleep. Helleborus niger, though, is just starting to push pretty pink buds up out of the ground that will transform into beautiful winter blooms.

Helleborus niger is sending up buds now which will transform into beautiful winter blooms. Photos by Doug Oster

Helleborus niger is sending up buds now which will transform into beautiful winter blooms. Photos by Doug Oster

Often referred to as the winter rose, this hellebore will start to flower with creamy white blossoms over the next few weeks.

It’s one of the only sources of food for native or honey bees during a thaw.

The flowers are almost plastic-like to the touch and can freeze solid, only to wait until a thaw to continue the blooming cycle.

The blooms often start white and fade to pinkish. Many of the centers of the flowers are highlighted with yellow.

H. niger has become a seasonal holiday plant, too. Nurseries will sell them as a table decoration. If the weather is right, they can be planted in the ground and can survive the winter to bloom again next November.

H. orientalis (Lenten rose) blooms early in the spring about the same time crocus bulbs begin to flower. Breeders have had a field day with the plant, creating a multitude of different colors and shapes. Both plants are evergreen, and the flowers are long lasting.

‘Maid of Honor’ is a Lenten rose from the Wedding Party series bred by Walters Gardens.

Once in place, a hellebore resents being moved, but it can be done. Doing so though can delay blooming for a season or two.

It’s nice to see the winter rose begin to put on a show when most plants are going to sleep for the season.

Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”