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Helleborus Flowers 101 | Varieties, Availability, Care & Ordering

What a winter discovery is the Helleborus! All the different species have beautiful flowers, who are actually all family of the Ranunculaceae. The most famous Helleborus is the Christmas Rose (Helleborus Niger). Most species originally come from Europe and Asia, specifically in the Balkan area.

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What are Helleborus Flowers?

Availability

Varieties, Colors, and Shapes

Care Tips

Story and Symbolism of Helleborus

Design Inspiration

What are Helleborus Flowers?

The botanical name Helleborus is a composition of the words ‘elein’ (to injure) and ‘bora’ (food). This is a reference to the poisonous nature of the plant.

The Latin specific name is ‘Helleborus Niger’, in which ‘Niger’ (black) may refer to the color of the roots. There are two subspecies, of which Helleborus Niger Macranthus is known for its bigger flowers.

In the wild, Helleborus is found in mountainous areas in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and northern Italy.

Other names

Because it is blooming in the winter, Helleborus is also known as ‘Winter Rose’ and ‘Christmas Rose’. That’s a bit confusing because Helleborus is actually not related to the Rose family. The plant was already used in ancient times for medical use. Hippocrates used Helleborus as a laxative and as a remedy for mental illness. However, this was not without risks, because – as mentioned above – all Helleborus species are very toxic.

Availability

The availability of Helleborus depends on the varieties. Some varieties – particularly the colored tones – only occur in spring. The characteristic light green Helleborus (Winterbells) is year-round available but got a strong association with the winter.

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Varieties, Colors, and Shapes

The most common Helleborus colors are bright green, pink and yellow, but they are also available in red, purple, and even black tones.

Many Helleborus flowers have multiple colors. This forms beautiful patterns in the heart of the blooms.

The flowers of the Helleborus are mostly star-shaped. Some varieties grow a large cluster of petals that more resembles a rose; hence the name ‘Christmas rose’.

We can furthermore identify two types. There is the sensitive type which is short-stemmed and colorful, and the harder type which is green in general. All the species have the typical flower shape.

Care Tips

Check the flowers when you receive them. After that, cut the flowers with a sharp knife and put them on clean water with flower food. Store the flowers cooled.

Vase-life tests have demonstrated that cutting the flowers diagonally and adding a drop chlorine to the water, give the best results.

The Story and Symbolism of Helleborus

Helleborus Niger originates, according to an ancient legend, from the tears of a young shepherdess that felt in the snow. The girl was crying because she had no present for the newborn child Jesus. A lot of people passed by with their beautiful gifts and delicious food for the Christ child. An angel saw her weeping and came down. She changed the tears in the snow for a beautiful flower. Now the shepherdess could give this beautiful white flower to child Jesus. In the US the flower stands symbol for pioneers and survival.

Design Suggestions

It’s the perfect flower for a wedding in winter and spring. The flower has a romantic look and is available in beautiful soft colors. Instead of a red Rose with Valentine’s Day, dare to choose a bouquet with Helleborus. The flower is gorgeous to combine with Euphorbia, Brassica, Anemone, and Skimmia. But also the combination Helleborus, Amaryllis, Freesia and luscious greenery is lovely. Use the flower seasonally, and you always have a great result.

To further inspire you, we made these two videos on how to make centerpieces using Helleborus.

Large Centerpiece in a Bowl

Click here for a how-to on how to make this design

Thanksgiving Centerpiece with Helleborus

For a step-by-step instruction on how to make this design, click here
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