Helleborus purpurascens
Garden Plant Information

Helleborus Purpurascens


Helleborus Purpurascens detail



Helleborus purpurascens (also called purple Hellebore and Christmas rose)






This one could be 'Pluto' but I'm not sure. It was photographed at Beth Chatto's garden (in the woodland garden) near Colchester, in Essex.

General description

Winter flowering herbaceous perennial grown for purple cup-shaped flowers. It is not evergreen. Useful to grow in clumps, with other early flowering plants, between shrubs or under trees. Looks good with others of the Hellebore family, Arum italicum 'Pictum', Galanthus nivalis.and Scilla sibirica.  

In the picture above the blue buds of S. sibirica are not yet open but give an indication of the combination.


All parts are poisonous to humans, but flowers provide useful a nectar source for early foraging insects.

Season of interest

Flowers in late winter and early spring.

Key horticultural features

  1. Forms slightly untidy, upright, clumps of leaves and flowers in winter. H: 30cm S: up to 45cm.

  2. Round, smooth stems, dark purple with some green tinges.

  3. Leaves, dark green, some with purple tinges, palmate, divided into lance-shaped, tooth edged segments. Leaves appear after the flowers

  4. Flowers, open, cup-shaped, five-petalled. Dark purple with creamy stamens and a ring of envelope shaped nectaries which are gold and streaked with dark purple. Flowers appear before the leaves. Gently turn the flower upright to appreciate the full beauty of it.

Cultural details


Shade to partial shade.


Moisture retentive, well drained. Prefers alkaline soil.


Hardy to -10F/-20C


The plant dies down in summer so be careful not to accidentally damage it. Mulch in autumn to promote good flowering. May be affected by aphids and black spot.


Divide in autumn or very early spring. Collect and sow fresh seed in autumn.