Crop Rotation Group
Fertile, well-drained soil enriched with compost.
Yes, hellebores are hardy perennials, with a bit of variation between species. When well rooted, most hellebores are hardy to -20°F (-29°C).
In early winter, mulch over the plants’ root zones with rich compost.
Single Plants: 1' 1" (35cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 1' 1" (35cm) with 1' 1" (35cm) row gap (minimum)
Sow and Plant
Shop for hellebores at nurseries in late winter, while the plants are in bloom, so you can see the features of the plants’ blossoms. Hellebores are very slow-growing plants that take two to three years to fill a pot and bloom well, so container-grown plants are worth their cost. Set out plants as early as possible, while the soil is still cool. Take care not to bury the crown, which can lead to rotting. Young plants need water when they are actively growing. A surface mulch suppresses weeds while making the plants look more attractive. Hellebores resent root disturbance and need dividing only every five years or so. To propagate a plant, dig the clump and rinse off the root before cutting it into four or more sections with a sharp knife. Replant immediately. Whether dividing is done in spring or fall, plants may skip a year of flowering as they recover their roots.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.
Hellebores can be slow to settle in, but once established they will bloom for years with little care. They are ideal for open woodland gardens, or for elevated beds that are viewed from below. Most hellebore flowers nod downward, but a few newer varieties have upward-facing blossoms. Hellebores are poisonous, so they are of little interest to deer or rabbits.
Avoid the temptation to gather hellebore flowers for indoor display when the flowers are fresh, because they will fade fast. Instead, wait until the stamens have been shed and a seed pod forms in the center of the bracts to cut stems for indoor arrangements.
Cut away old foliage in the autumn to interrupt the life cycle of leaf spot and other diseases.
Planting and Harvesting Calendar
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Pests which Affect Hellebore