Cutting Back Hellebores

‘Jacob’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’, right now in my garden.  It always starts blooming in the fall, see Hellebores for Fall.  Photo 1/1/12

I usually don’t think about cutting back my hellebores until mid-February when the flower stalks begin to extend up through the old leaves.  However, here in southeastern Pennsylvania, we have had unusually mild weather during December—10 days over 50 degrees (10 C) and 8 days at 60 degrees (16C).  Hellebores that don’t usually bloom until February are coming into bloom now.  It seems like a good time to explain the ins and outs of cutting back the old leaves on hellebores.  This is done for aesthetic reasons and is not necessary for the health of the plant.


This beautiful hybrid hellebore, H. x hybridus ‘Pink Tea Cup’, is fully out right now.  It usually blooms in February.  Photo 12/31/11

The genus Helleborus contains about 15 species, and decisions about how to care for them require some knowledge of exactly which hellebores you have and how they grow.  The most commonly available hellebores are hybrid hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus (the Royal Horticultural Society approved name, previously called Lenten rose),  with the large, showy, nodding flowers in an amazing range of colors.  For some beautiful photos, check out my articles An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores and Double Hellebores.  Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, is also regularly found in gardens: for photos see Christmas Rose: The Perfect HelleboreBoth hybrid hellebores and Christmas roses produce leaves and flowers on separate stems (botanists call them acaulescent) so cutting back the leaves has no affect on the flowers.  The questions is when to cut.

If there is a “common” hellebore, then the un-named hybrid hellebore above would be it.  I couldn’t even begin to count the number of flowers on this one plant.  No leaves are visible yet, what you are seeing are bracts on the flower stems.  Photo 3/21/11


I do not cut back the leaves of hybrid hellebores in the fall because they are very pretty through the winter.

Hybrid hellebores have attractive leaves that stay green all winter (wintergreen), adding interest to the winter garden, so I leave them on as long as they look nice.  They are not evergreen though so the old leaves should be cut off when they become unsightly in late winter.  It is easiest to do this when the flower buds are still at the soil level and the old leaf stems and new flower stems are not yet intermingled.

This photograph illustrates the new flower stems emerging among the old leaf stems, which will be cut off February 15.  Usually the leaves are standing up causing old and new to mingle, but also providing some protection from cold weather.  Photo 12/31/11


In addition to winter interest, I also leave the old leaves on to protect the flower buds should we experience very cold weather in January and early February.  For southeastern Pennsylvania, this could be as low as -5 degrees (-21C).  I cut back my hybrid hellebores around February 15.  The same rules apply for the nine species hellebores that are the parents of hybrid hellebores (see The Sex Lives of Hellebores) should you have them in your garden.


This straight species Christmas rose is blooming right now in my garden—it has never bloomed before March in the almost 15 years I have had it.  Notice the lack of leafy bracts on the stem.  Photo 12/31/11


Christmas roses have very clean and elegant, blue-green leaves.

Christmas roses have even more beautiful wintergreen leaves.  Although you can cut them back without affecting the flowers (they are acaulescent), my considerations for this hellebore are somewhat different.  The flower stems of hybrid hellebores contain the buds and also leaf-like bracts, which provide a pleasing green backdrop for the blooming flowers (see photo of pink hybrid above).  Christmas rose flower stems have no bracts so if you cut off all the leaves, to me, the plant looks naked when it blooms.  As long as the leaves remain halfway decent, I leave them on until later in the season to serve as a frame for the flowers.  The leaf and flower stems do not intermingle so cutting them later is not a problem.

The buds of bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, emerge from the top of the leaf stem in the fall.  For more photos of this spectacular hellebore, see Hellebores for Fall.  Photo 12/2/10

There are two more wintergreen hellebore species that make their way into hellebore lovers’ gardens: Corsican hellebore, Helleborus argutifolius, and bearsfoot hellebore, Helleborus foetidus.  Botanists call these species caulescent because the flowers are not separate but are on the end of the leaf stem.  You cannot cut off the leaf stem until after the plant has flowered because you will be removing the flower buds.  And if you cut off the individual leaves, you are left with a long, ugly stalk, typically 2-3′, with the flowers at the tip.

I grow Corsican hellebore, H. argutifolius, as much for its gorgeous wintergreen leaves as for its flowers.

In mild winters when the leaves remain attractive, this is not a problem.  It is also usually not a problem for bearsfoot hellebore whose leaves remain pristine during very cold winters.  However, Corsican hellebore leaves are easily damaged, and I often make the decision to sacrifice the flowers and cut the plants back to the ground rather than look at their unsightly leaves while they bloom.  I grow this species equally for its foliage, and new growth springs up very quickly when the old stems are removed.

H. x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’ in my garden right now—much earlier than normal for this species cross.  Notice the leafy bracts surrounding the flowers.  Photo 12/31/11


H. x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’ displaying the pink color inherited from its parent H. lividus.  Photo 3/21/11

That pretty much covers care and maintenance of the hybrid hellebores and the available species hellebores.  However, a large group of gorgeous species crosses are beginning to appear in local gardens (especially if the gardener has been shopping at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens), and I want to let you know how to care for them.  These plants are generally the progeny of Christmas rose crossed with Corsican hellebore and/or Helleborus lividus (not hardy here) to produce elegant outward-facing flowers and silver-marbled leaves often with red highlights and stems.  The most familiar crosses are H. x ericsmithii (‘Silvermoon’, ‘Winter’s Song’), H. x nigercors (‘Honeyhill Joy’, ‘Green Corsican’), and H. x ballardiae (‘Pink Frost’).


H. x nigercors ‘Green Corsican’: all the Christmas rose crosses have copious amounts of large, very desirable outward-facing flowers.  Photo 3/21/11

The Christmas rose crosses grow differently than either of the two groups discussed above.  Their leaves are one of their best features, and I cut them back only if they are unsightly.   They do have leaves and flowers on the same stems so you cannot cut the stems back to the base if cutting is necessary.  However, the plants are generally short, 12 to 15″, and produce such an abundance of flowers that cutting off individual leaves from the main stem does not leave an ugly stalk.  In addition, the flowers usually have leafy bracts to frame their beauty.

Our 2010-2011 winter was very hard on hellebore leaves.  However, even though I cut almost all the damaged leaves off these H. x ericsmithii ‘Silvermoon’ plants, they still look beautiful.  Photo 3/24/11

I hope I have answered all your questions about cutting back hellebores.  If not, feel free to seek clarification in a comment.  You are probably wondering what I will do this year when the hellebores are blooming early.  I have decided that discretion is the better part of valor so no leaves will be removed until mid-February.

Carolyn

If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide.  For details, click here.  It is 25% off through January 6, 2012, with the code ONEMORETHING at checkout.

This is part of a series of articles on hellebores, one of the specialties of my nursery.  Here are links to the other articles:

Part One        Hellebores for Fall

Part Two       An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores

Part Three   Christmas Rose: The Perfect Hellebore

Part Four      Dividing Hybrid Hellebores

Part Five       The Sex Lives of Hellebores

Part Six          Double Hellebores

Part Seven   Cutting Back Hellebores

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Nursery Happenings: To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here. I am currently accepting orders—snowdrops are available mail order.

Look for an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012.  If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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95 Responses to “Cutting Back Hellebores”

  1. Thanks for another great lesson and for all the great photos! My one meager little Christmas Rose (thanks for identifying it for me!) has a single bloom, but I’m not sure how much longer it will last.

    I especially love those last few you show – ‘Green Corsican,’ ‘Pink Frost,’ and ‘Winter Song’ – just lovely. What a bizarre year, with things coming up when they’re not really supposed to…my garlic has been shooting up already too. Will it ever snow? Early or not, your Hellebores are simply beautiful. Thanks for sharing them with us!

    • Aimee, It is great to get a comment so quickly. Your Christmas rose will probably produce more flowers. Unless it is ‘Jacob’ or ‘Josef Lemperer’ it wouldn’t normally be blooming now. Look around the base of the stem for more buds. I am going to do a separate post on all the new species crosses that are appearing. You are right, they are very beautiful, and they are also exceptionally vigorous and easy to grow. Carolyn

  2. Wow, that bearsfoot hellebore is really stunning. It actually is one of the more “sculptural” plants I can recall seeing. Amazing, as is your gardening knowledge! Happy new year!

  3. Thanks for this Carolyn, I have been wondering what to do with the unsighly leaves (I’ve been removing them). I love the leaves and they are gorgeous greenery when the plant is not flowering.

    • Christine, I can always tell when it is hellebore season because my customers start emailing about their hellebore leaves. A common misconception is that there is something wrong with the hellebores because the leaves are turning brown. Most perennials do not hold their leaves through the winter, and this is an advantage of hellebores, but they are not evergreen like a rhododendron so eventually they die back. Carolyn

  4. You have such a wonderful collection of hellebores and I appreciate all the information that you share about them. Being quite new to them, I really have a lot to learn but they certainly have added a new dimension to my gardening. I have been thinking of posting photos once again of the plants in my collection but I certainly think you are the go to person when it comes to knowledge of the plant and the various choices available! Larry

    • Larry, Thanks for your kind words. I am excited to be able to pass on all the information about hellebores that I have learned over the years. I became fascinated with hellebores over 20 years ago when they were not popular or even very available in the U.S. I had to order my first plants from Wayside Gardens, and they were tiny and very expensive. They were also quite unattractive when compared with more carefully selected hellebores that are now available, but I loved them. Then I discovered the species hellebores and started buying them whenever I came across them so now I have a pretty comprehensive collection. In the winter and early spring, my garden is a hellebore and snowdrop garden, and I love it. Carolyn

  5. Cecilia Wheeler Says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    I’m enjoying your calendar right now! I bought it as a present for myself 🙂

    I have a question about planting. I gave a friend a white flowering Hellebore for Christmas. It was covered with beautiful flowers but there is was no ID so I have no idea what it is.

    We’re on Long Island so our Hellebores bloom in late Feb. (through March and, often, April, but the ground is usually still pretty frozen).
    When do you think my friend should try to plant her gift outdoors? And, is it possible that this plant isn’t winter hardy…just something produced by the nursery trade to sell at Christmas?

    Thanks so much. Keep warm!

    Cecilia

    • Cecilia, I am so glad you are enjoying the calendar—I have gotten so much positive feedback. If you want captions, they are now in my original blog post on the calendar. If your friend’s plant is a hellebore, it is hardy. I am almost certain that what you gave your friend is a Christmas rose/Helleborus niger. There is a long tradition of producing Christmas roses as potted plants for the holidays in Europe, and it seems to finally be coming to the U.S. I am not sure how to treat the plant now. My gut feeling would be to slowly acclimate it to the outdoor temperatures by leaving it outside for longer and longer periods of time and then plant it. Internet research may give some guidance. Carolyn

  6. Hi Carolyn, Thank you for such a complete set of instructions and information about hellebores. I know they’ve been around for many years, but I’ve just been able to explore a bit these past three or four years. I added a few new varieties last year, so am looking forward to Spring 2012!! 🙂

  7. Perfectly illustrated article Carolyn. I am often asked about how to do this – now I can just send them this link!

    It is a common misconception that the leaves of orientalis MUST be cut back. In fact I never had problems with them hiding the flowers or even looking ratty until blooming was just over, by which time new leaves had emerged anyway.

    • Karen, As I said, it is purely an aesthetic decision whether to cut back hellebore leaves. Your gardening conditions in the PNW probably preserve your leaves, but here in the mid-Atlantic with the wildly fluctuating temperatures and ice and snow, they often look awful by spring and really detract from the show. I should also mention that I remove all hybrid hellebore leaves on February 15 whether they look nice or not because I don’t have time to come back and cut off any that I could have decided to save. Carolyn

  8. Here in Brussels we had also a really mild month of December and some of plants i the terrace were looking as if in October. the helleborus ar one of my favourites, but I am not having any this year, so it is very nice to see your images, I’ll keep your helpfull instructions for next year.

  9. I always look to you for information and advice on hellebores. I would love to see your impressive collection of hellebores. I am glad that at least I can enjoy them virtually! My own hellebores are just beginning to show a few buds here and there.Our winters are always mild, so I am not surprised to see signs of spring already.

  10. Lots of information here, thank you, Carolyn. You are lucky that your plants don’t suffer from the form of blackspot that affects our Hellebores here in the UK, if any leaves are infected then I cut mine off in November so that the spores are not passed onto the flowers as they emerge.Like you, my garden is full of Hellebores and snowdrops. such an exciting time ahead!

    • Pauline, I gathered from blog reading that it was the practice in the UK to cut back hellebores in November but didn’t know why. Hellebores are very healthy in my climate, which is very different from yours. So far they do not suffer from any diseases that would necessitate cutting off the leaves. However, several of the species parents of hybrid hellebores are deciduous, and I cut them back in the fall. Carolyn

  11. I’ve never grown Hellebores (I know, gasp!). Every year at this time though, as I see beautiful examples of everyone else’s, and I’m so tempted! I’m not even sure if they’d grow well here. They really are such beautiful, elegant flowers though.

    Thank you again for the lovely calendar, I had an opportunity to really look through it over the holiday, and I think it turned out just beautifully!

    • Clare, Hellebores are very big in OR and WA, but I am not sure what parts of CA they grow in. If they are available in your nurseries its probably safe to at least try one. They are very easy to grow and vigorous. So glad you liked the calendar—it wouldn’t have turned out so beautifully with out your recommendations. Carolyn

  12. Carolyn – Great post! I think I might have the “common” hellebore – never mind. I thought that cutting the leaves might encourage the plant to concentrate on producing more flowers. Is there any truth in this ?

    • B-a-g, There is nothing common about any hellebore. See my comment to Pauline about UK vs. US practices. If there is no problem with disease, I would just as soon look at the wintergreen leaves until spring. I have never read that cutting the leaves encourages more flowers, but you are certainly the one to run the experiment. Hypothesis: I don’t see how this could be true because photosynthesis feeds plants (I think I read even in winter), and they can’t photosynthesize without leaves. My hybrid hellebores have so many flowers that I don’t know how they could produce more. I will say that it seems to me that once I cut the leaves the flowers extend more quickly but that could be my imagination. Carolyn

  13. Hello Carolyn,
    Thanks for the post and pics. Am fascinated by the weather information for Pennsylvania. Here at 800 feet above sea level in Wales (UK) still no serious frost this winter. Unheard of . So what to do with Hellebore leaves and hardy geranium leaves, since we have many of both groups with snowdrops planted intermingling? In the end after last year’s severe winter, we opted to take off the Hellebore leaves in late November, and are having to tackle the Geranium leaves now, or risk a mat of rotting vegetation around the snowdrops. But normally winter would have sorted this for us.
    I reckon that gardeners are going to have to be much more flexible with timings in the future to cope with the atypical seasons that seem to be occuring more often throughout the so called temperate zones.
    thanks again for discussing these issues in a great post Carolyn, BW Julian

    • Julian, It is often recommended that snowdrops be grown amongst hellebores because they are great companion blooms. However, this never worked for me because the hellebore leaves and even the large flower clumps obscured and shaded the snowdrops which suffered accordingly. Now if I grow them together the snowdrops are well in front of the hellebores. I don’t grow snowdrops in with any other plants but give each precious variety its own space. This doesn’t apply to Galanthus nivalis, which naturalizes and grows wherever it wants–I have thousands. Gardening practices have already shifted here with lots of borderline hardy plants like daphne, nandina, skimmia, sweetbox, etc., being planted as we have not reached our hardiness low since 1993-1994. Carolyn

  14. Really interesting article. I’m in the UK and as we speak have some beautiful dark maroon hellebores which I’ve grown in pots outside our front door. I have been wondering for a while whether to cut, or not to cut – the leaves off! Have decided to leave them a while longer. I love their sculptural shape in winter.

    Elspeth
    http://www.my-garden-school.com

  15. Hmmm, I’ve never cut mine…. they seem to bloom in like like January and then by May disappear entirely. Then they come back in September. Usually with relatives.

    I wonder if I cut mine they would bloom later? That would be really a good thing because they bloom out there all by themselves. Either that or I guess I could move them to where the rest of the early blooming things are out in the parking garden/

    • Jess, I am not sure I understand “disappear entirely”, nothing, no leaves, no spent flowers, an empty space? I don’t think cutting the leaves back would cause them to bloom later. January is when they should bloom. Just position them where you can see them that time of year. Carolyn

  16. I was woefully underinformed on Hellebore (which are my faves) and have increased my knowledge about 500 percent thanks to this post! Will definitely be looking at expanding my collection thanks to your posts! Thank you!

  17. I only have Lenten Rose or the crosses…I leave the leaves because it is so cold here. I remove the leaves if they look ratty but right now they are also beautiful. I think one of the hellebores blooming now is a cross…of course it is now buried by snow in frigid cold…but we are slated to reach a balmy 43 this weekend…so I will see how it did

  18. Carolyn, I echo Karen, I will tell customers to check out your posts for any questions. I do not spec many, but this is a good source for those I do.

  19. Every year I see pictures of hellebores and get so sad because I can’t grow them. Then I read that Jess grows them, and wondered if it was just me, and not my area like I thought. But, then I read more and was a bit relieved when you told Clare that they would be available locally if they could be grown there, and since I have never seen one offered locally, I guess it’s not just me. So, now I guess I’m just back to being sad that I can’t grow these beauties! What a roller coaster of emotions!

    • Holley, What I meant in my comment to Clare is that, if they are available, then they probably grow there. Maybe I am too used to the availability of hellebores around here. I figured that if they grew in an area they are such great plants that nurseries would sell them, but 20 years ago they weren’t available here. Judith Tyler who wrote the book Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide states: “Hellebores are very hardy and although most species will grow and thrive in Zones 4 through 9, we are not sure how well they would tolerate Zone 3 or Zone 10. We have customers who are growing our plants in 49 of the 50 states, everywhere but Hawaii!” You are in zone 8 and clearly they grow there. You need to order a hybrid hellebore—they are the most available and easiest to grow—and start your addiction now. They like lots of compost. Carolyn

      • Thanks, Carolyn. I did plant some last year, but had to move those bulbs later on, so I will need to give them another chance. Thanks for clarifying what I need to know. I’ll definitely look for some hybrid hellebores. I appreciate your expertise!

      • Holley, I recommend starting with some good-sized plants to insure success and flowers the first year of planting. Carolyn

  20. Great post! I don’t cut my leaves back since they stay green all winter long. I like that they protect the blooms if the temperatures drop. Mine have been blooming since late November (crazy weather patterns has everything coming up early!). I wonder if I will have a longer blooming season or if they will be finished by February.

  21. Dear Carolyn, Wow, hellebores blooming in January … it’s definitely much colder in my part of PA. One thing I learned from your posting — I don’t have enough hellebores! P. x

  22. I cut mine back in late December or January. I used to leave the leaves on for protection and cut them back later. Now that my plants are older it does not seem to harm them. Even last year they were fine. For my location in Putnam County, NY, February is usually bitterly cold with some snow so that is why I do it earlier. This year there are more flowers and after our 5F yesterday morning they may be a mess but more flowers will come later in the season. For those that don’t think they can grow them, I know people in Georgia and even Australia and New Zealand that grow hellebores. You may have to grow them in a shadier spot than I do (I have mine in sunny locations and they do just fine).

    • Terry, We haven’t had any really cold weather here in quite a number of years so I am not sure your plants have been tested. You also get more snow than we do. They don’t need any added protection from the leaves if there is snow cover and temperatures can get quite low without damaging even open flowers. It is when there is no snow and low temperatures that there is a problem, and before the last two years that was a very common combination in southeastern PA where snow has been rare. See my comment to Holley about hellebores growing in zones 4 to 9. Carolyn

  23. My hellebores have not bloomed yet. I thought with the milder weather, I would see some blooms early. I will keep checking them to see. Their blooms are so refreshing among the gray and brown of winter.

  24. I always enjoy your Hellebore posts–thanks for sharing so much helpful information! So far, I only have the hybrids. When I checked on them in November, they were about as far along as they were last March! But I won’t pull away the mulch or clip the green leaves until late March. I worry about them so much! I know they’re hardy, but I worry about them. 😉

  25. An update on when to cut back those unsightly leaves on my Hellebores is just what I needed Carolyn. The new ones in our garden planted in Autumn are coming along nicely new shoots are popping through the ground some with colour on the buds showing already. I will leave those horrid leaves in place a little longer.

    • Alistair, Your climate in Scotland may demand a different treatment if disease is a consideration—see Pauline’s comment and my response. The US is so big that we have different considerations for each area of the country. You couldn’t take gardening practices in the Pacific North West or the South and apply them exactly as they are to the mid-Atlantic. The same thing would be true between here and where you are so I don’t want to lead you astray. Carolyn

  26. I’m a bit shocked at how early plants are starting to pop up in the southern states (south to me anyway!). Our weather this year is really a bit worrying and I hope plants don’t get damaged by the up and down temps.

    • Marguerite, In later fall I was enjoying the weather, but now like you I can’t enjoy it because I am worried. This is so out of line with anything that’s happened in previous years. It’s 60 degrees today on January 7. My worries are for the plants but also for the Earth. Carolyn

  27. Carolyn – with this oh so mild weather have noticed quite a few Hellebores in full bloom here in London but why oh why does my Christmas rose Hellebore put up some blooms that frankly look like half-formed mutants and others that are perfect – all from the same plant ?soil too dry for them. Love your blooming Jacob

    • Laura, I don’t feel as competent giving advice about hellebores in the UK because our climate is so different. I am so sorry about your Christmas rose but I have never heard of that before. I have had blooms come up that look like they have been eaten by an insect while still at ground level. Does it look like that? Hellebores here thrive in dry soil. ‘Jacob’ and ‘Josef Lemper’ are both much easier to grow than other Christmas roses so maybe you want to try one of them. Carolyn

  28. Thank you for this posting. Since I am new to growing them in my garden I was not sure about trimming off the unsightly leaves. I have one in bud now for the first time and I am excited about it and hoping nothing happens until I get to see a bloom. LOL! Thanks to you I now know I can trim mine up February 15th. Have a wonderful week.

  29. You are Hellebore Queen and should publish a book if you haven’t already. Thanks for all the invaluable information. (Shade plants in general are just the best…)

  30. Such beautiful hellebores-all of them! A wonderful plant in the garden. I was late cutting mine back this year and just noticed all the flowers so then went and cut the leaves (hybrid type). I haven’t cut any other ones back thank goodness! Happy New Year to you!

  31. Hi Carolyn, I added some hellebores just this year and so I am relatively unfamiliar with them. Your post has been a great help in getting to know them just a little bit more.

  32. Dear Carolyn I am delighted to be reminded of hellebores. I feel as if I had stumbled across an old recipe that I had forgotten about in the fast pace of feeding my family. Right now i am renovating my little garden and not yet at the stage of acquiring plants. I can salivate though

  33. Hi Carolyn, I live in London, UK and I have 3 Hellebores Orientalis from Broadview Gardens National Collection of Hellebores in Kent, UK. (Got them for free from an ex-boyfriend who worked there!) Have had them for 8 years, were probably 4 years when I got them, so 12 years old in total. My question is – since I no longer am in touch with my ex and can ask him, have you ever heard about hellebores that flowers twice a year, and that flowers with one colour in the summer and a different one in the winter, on the same plant?! One of mine does that, not every year, but most years. Amazing, or…or not?
    I wrote a post on my blog about my summer flowering Hellebore on the 20th August 2011, perhaps you would like to have a look? You can find pictures of the winter flowers on the hellebores on the 24th February 2011, just to compare. Would love to hear your opinion!
    Great post, will be back for more here some other day 🙂

    • Helene, I looked at your blog posts about the hellebores. I have never heard of a hybrid hellebore that flowers in the summer. None of mine have ever done that, and I have hundreds. It could be something that happens occasionally in the UK with a specific weather combination. You should probably ask one of the big hellebore growers over there. Hybrid hellebores often have two different flower colors though. Seeds from the original plant’s flower fall down into the crown and make a new plant that looks like part of the original plant. Because it came from a seed (rather than a division) the new plant will have a different color flower. Carolyn

      • Thank you so much for your reply, so if I understand you correctly, I probably have 2 plants in one clump, one maroon that flowers in the winter, (when the other two flowers) and in-between that one maroon there is a pink hellebore that only flowers during the summer, not every summer and never in the winter. Not as unusual as I thought then, but still a bit unusual…. 🙂
        I have been thinking about collecting seeds from that hellebore in the summer, but have no idea of course what I would get, and if it would inherit its parent’s flowering habit.
        Thanks for taking the time to write back to me, much appreciated, I have been wondering about this jewel in my garden, is it perhaps a very valuable jewel 🙂
        Take care!

      • Helene, I think there would be a market for a hellebore that flowers in the summer. Why don’t you contact Phedar Nursery over there and see what they think? Carolyn

  34. Hi Carolyn.
    I will send them an email and ask if they have heard about summer flowering hellebores, might be more common over here than I think – or quite unique for all I know! I will let you know what they say 🙂

  35. ‘Jacob’ is beautiful!
    I want to come dig out babies…

    I am glad to see someone else telling people to leave the plants alone, that stripping the leaves off doesn’t help and may in fact cause harm.
    Entirely too many people are labouring under the misconception that they need to give their felcos a workout every time they step out the door…

  36. Thanks for the clear and helpful (as always) information. I’ve flagged this for future reference, since I’ll be adding my first hellebores to the garden this spring.

  37. Carolyn, Slight problem with the Elaeagnus pungens-I’ve found at least two seedlings under the bushes. My hedge has been there for at least five years. This year the shrubs are covered with drupes so I will be watching them for more unwanted seedlings. So far though, the good thing is that the birds don’t seem to eat the drupes so I’m thinking that while the seeds my drop and sprout under the hedge that is preferable to populating the woods. I have not found any seedlings elsewhere like mahonia spreads. This hasn’t knock on wood. I can certainly control seedlings but spreading to the woods is a no go. I love this shrub for its versatility and as a privacy screen.

    • Tina, I have had mine for almost 20 years but have never had a seedling. But that doesn’t mean anything if the seeds need to pass through a bird and are being deposited elsewhere. I haven’t noticed whether the birds eat the fruit, but the plant was marketed as a source of food for wildlife when I bought it. I love the smell of the flowers. Carolyn

  38. […] Cutting Back Hellebores (carolynsshadegardens.com) […]

  39. Hi, I’m hoping you can offer some advice, my husband decided to tidy the garden whilst I was out last night and my 3 gorgeous large Christmas rose plant have been cut to the ground with just stalks showing! Will they ever recover? I’m devasted!
    Thanks julie

    • Julie, You have my deepest sympathy. I really don’t know what will happen, but just leave the plants there ans they may resprout. Let me know if they recover. Carolyn

      • I will let you know but I fear the worse, he’s lucky I noticed whilst he’s at work, I may have calmed down by the time he returns!
        I’ve been searching to find out what will happen but nothing in uk coming up on my plight!

  40. Dennie Terry Says:

    hello, i planted a helleborus many years ago. the plant is doing just fine and has gotten bigger and blooms lots of blooms at the end of the winter. the man i purchased it from told me it would spread. it has only had 1 baby in all these years, maybe 8-10 years. why doesn’t it have more babies and why doesn’t it grow in a clump like the ones in this article (so i could divide it) they are so expensive in my area. i don’t understand the difference between hybrid and non hybrid but i suspect mine is non hybrid. i live in Bahama NC (N Durham) near Raleigh and it is planted under a HUGE oak tree in my yard. Thanks, Dennie

  41. munchymeanderings Says:

    I grow hellebores in my shady garden but most of the flower heads look down and don’t stand up and show as they do when you buy them in a pot from the garden centre; I see from your photos that many of the flower heads in your garden are looking up beautifully, do you know how I can get my flowers to show better? Please?

    • Sorry, but there is no way to make hellebores with nodding flowers face outward. If you plant them on a slope or above a wall you can look up into them.

      • That’s a shame but thank you for answering

      • I actually love walking around the garden flipping them up and exclaiming how beautiful they are. It’s like unwrapping a gift. Also since you see the backs of the flowers, it is important to select plants in bloom that have flowers that are pretty without seeing the inside. Many are just as pretty on the back as the front.

      • I agree, there is one particular hellebore [sorry I don’t know its name] that is really quite stunning upside down ~ white and dark pink.
        The alternative is to pick a few ~ very short stalks ~ and float them in a shallow dish ~ they look lovely on the table.
        Foliage is also attractive, in my shady garden I am quite happy with hundreds of varieties of green!

  42. arleta miller Says:

    my hellebore is very large and the lovely flowers are not blooming on the top but around the sides. I have spread the top and all the flowers are below. why?

  43. Barry pinkney Says:

    Iam in the UK my hellebores are again now in flower and its July is this norm .Barry

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