The Christmas Rose

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’. Photo: courtesy of Skagit Gardens

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’. Photo: courtesy of Skagit Gardens

A gift of flowers with the promise of spring is perhaps the perfect holiday plant. Florist cyclamen, Christmas cacti, showboat poinsettias, and flowering bulbs have long carried the floral tradition. But these hothouse beauties are not without their cultural eccentricities—beware the chill draft—and require horticultural hijinks and nuanced light cues to ensure proper blooming on a holiday schedule.

The Helleborus Gold Collection® offers a garden-fresh take on holiday blooms and a decidedly more sustainable alternative to disposable plants that get tossed with the rest of the tired holiday décor. And the entirely natural seasonal display begins with snow-white blossoms atop burgundy stems and the lustrous evergreen foliage of Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’.

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’ is a sparkly star of the winter garden and stalwart evergreen groundcover for the shade garden throughout the remaining months of the year. Photo: courtesy of Skagit Gardens

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’ is a sparkly star of the winter garden and stalwart evergreen groundcover for the shade garden throughout the remaining months of the year. Photo: courtesy of Skagit Gardens

Unlike most hardy garden perennials, H. ‘HGC Jacob’ holds up well indoors with cool conditions and bright light; perfect for a chilly sunroom, enclosed porch, and other living spaces provided you avoid hot air from furnace vents and fireplaces. Deck the porch or patio with container compositions and you’ll still be enjoying the show long after holiday lights and tinsel come down and other gift plants have faded. In the garden, flowers of H. ‘HGC Jacob’ emerge as early as November in warm southern gardens, and plants are budding up now in the Pacific Northwest.

Once the holidays are over, transplant Christmas rose gift plants into the garden to enjoy nature’s harbinger of the holidays for years to come. Provide partial to full shade and evenly moist but well-drained soil, mulch to conserve moisture during the dry season. The sturdy plants prolifically bloom at a young age with as many as 15–20 outward facing, 2–3 inch blossoms held well above the dark green foliage of compact plants growing to 6–8 inches tall. The sturdy plants are disease and deer resistant.

Helleborus ×ballardiae ‘HGC Cinnamon Snow’ is another early bloomer with creamy flowers beginning in December and continuing through February. Blossoms age to a dusky rose and hold well on the plant for months of continued interest. Photo: courtesy of Skagit Gardens.

Helleborus ×ballardiae ‘HGC Cinnamon Snow’ is another early bloomer with creamy flowers beginning in December and continuing through February. Blossoms age to a dusky rose and hold well on the plant for months of continued interest. Photo: courtesy of Skagit Gardens.

This month you’ll find blooming plants of H. ‘HGC Jacob’ along with other choice selections in the Helleborus Gold Collection® at neighborhood nurseries, garden centers, and florists.

Helleborus ×ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’ has burgundy and white buds that open to soft pink blossoms offering a spectrum of color from mid January through March. Photo: courtesy of Skagit Gardens

Helleborus ×ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’ has burgundy and white buds that open to soft pink blossoms offering a spectrum of color from mid January through March. Photo: courtesy of Skagit Gardens