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Look after your Christmas roses6 December 2013
Look after your Christmas roses to keep them at their best right through the festive season. The large pure white flowers of Helleborus niger are a real tonic in the chilliest months of the year. Despite the name, they usually flower in late December to early January and make a wonderfully charming companion to the earliest bulbs such as grape hyacinths, palest blue Chionodoxa, winter aconites and of course snowdrops.
Give them a rich soil in a sheltered spot in part-shade, where there aren't too many other plants muscling in on their space as their delicate beauty is quickly overwhelmed by too-close neighbours. Those paper-thin petals are easily damaged, too, so to keep your Christmas roses perfect give them a little protection from the worst of the winter weather.
Mud splashing up from the ground, especially in heavy rainfall, can really disfigure the flowers, so mulch your plants with bark or gravel to keep the petals dry. As the buds start to form, remove old foliage at ground level to show off the new flowers, and put down some protection against slugs. Finally, if the weather gets very wild, cover your plants temporarily with cloches to keep off the worst, just until things improve again.