Do Hellebores Like Shade


  • Hellebores thrive in slightly shaded, evenly moist, well-drained soil.
  • Long dry spells should be adequately hydrated; once established, they are drought-tolerant.
  • Hellebores thrive in soil that has been greatly improved by organic matter.
  • The Helleborus x hybridus (formerly known as Helleborus orientalis) hybrids prefer a soil pH that is close to neutral or even alkaline; if your soil is excessively acidic, add lime.
  • The Christmas Rose (H. niger) may take some time to establish itself; to speed things along, consider adding some magnesium to the environment in the form of Epsom salts or dolomitic limestone.
  • Early in the spring, apply a little amount of balanced, granular fertilizer to the plants.

Can hellebores withstand complete shade?

I like having a four-season garden, so having blossoms that begin in late winter and early spring is quite satisfying to me. At this point, hellebores command attention. They resurface with the first warming sunrays, even after being flattened by the bitter frost and snow of winter. You can’t help but admire a plant that braves the elements and still manages to flourish this time of year. And in my Pennsylvania garden, the blooms bloom from March to May. The fact that they are excellent shade plants and essentially evergreen just to their appeal. The Oriental hybrid hellebores are the most widely grown and, incidentally, the simplest (Helleborushybridus cvs., USDA Hardiness Zones 69). Since they bloom around the start of Lent, they are known as Lenten roses. These plants are unique in the yard since they are long-blooming, low-maintenance perennials that can endure even dry shade and even bloom before the snow melts.

With the bewildering variety of options available, finding something you like is simple. In spite of this, certain hellebores are superior than others, and by arming yourself with some information, you may be certain to leave your neighborhood garden center with the best of the bunch.

To get what you want, buy it in bloom

Hellebores are available in almost any shade you can imagine, including white, green, pink, apricot, and purple, to mention a few. Breeders have yet to produce a pure blue or true red that is deserving, but we are working on it. Every year, it seems that my preferences for hellebores’ hues shift. I seem to favor yellows and blacks right now (which are really a shade of deep purple).

However, one is not constrained to this gamut of solid colors. Hellebores can also have lovely veining or picotee edges, which are ones that are a distinct color than the body of the flower. They may feature spots or a dark core on the inside that draws the viewer’s attention to the blossom.

The variety of choices includes the floral shapes as well. Hellebores can also have anemone-shaped blooms, which resemble something in between a single and a double, in addition to single, double, and star-shaped flowers.

Buying a hellebore when it is in bloom is the best method to make sure you get what you want. Look for flowers with colors that aren’t muddled by too much green, unless the green is intentional. If the flower has veins, spots, or a picotee shape, all of the petals should have the same markings (which are actually sepals).

Oriental Hybrid Hellebores

They like partial shade but may survive in both practically full sun and almost full shade. Flower output may be hampered by dense shading.

They typically like slightly acidic to neutral soils. Avoid planting them in an area that is too damp because this promotes decay.

The earth should only partially encase the crown. Hellebores produce less flowers when planted too deeply, just like peonies.

They appreciate an annual application of well-rotted manure or compost to promote healthy development, although they’ll overlook it for a year or two. Remove the previous year’s foliage in late January or early February, before the buds open, to enhance the view of their blossoms. Old leaves won’t disintegrate in less than a year, so don’t toss them in the compost pile.

They self-sow quickly. It can be a good idea to discourage this behavior in order to maintain the garden neat and to stop seeds from sprouting in the crowns of other plants. Don’t count on seedlings to closely resemble their parents. Although it is not required, division is the greatest way to produce an exact replica of a specific plant. Simply use your hands to pry apart the crown in the early spring or late summer. Make sure the plants receive enough water.

Hellebores with a short stem at the base of the flower, called a pedicel, that turns the blossom outward rather than downward are my favorite. I don’t mind whether the blossom hangs. I like turning up their faces and, if you like, “playing” with the plants.

You will need to conduct some thorough research if the hellebore you wish to purchase is not in bloom. Unless the parent was specially bred to generate such offspring, hellebore seedlings are unlikely to resemble the plant they came from. Better garden centers should be able to respond to inquiries regarding the parentage of the plant and if it is likely to be true to type.

Since there aren’t many called hellebores in existence and with a keen eye, you can find an unidentified plant that is equivalent to the one you’re looking for, I typically don’t advise hunting for them. A hellebore is frequently identified as being a member of a certain strain or line (such as the Royal Heritage Strain or Pine Knot Strain) that was bred for a particular characteristic, such as color saturation, color variation, or bloom shape. Asking about the qualities your prospective purchase was bred for is a smart idea.

Hellebores, in my opinion, are nature’s wintertime gift. They usher in spring before the daffodils and are the ideal remedy for long winters and cabin sickness.

The greatest places to cultivate hellebores?

Both the ground and containers are suitable for growing hellebores. Most appealing: light or dappled shade with intermittent sun. high in organic materials soil.

Can hellebore plants be grown beneath trees?

The majority of trees can tolerate having hellebores planted beneath them. They enjoy the canopy of shade, after all. But there are lots of exceptions!

Regardless of the type of tree they are growing beneath, hellebores won’t thrive in a particularly dry environment, so don’t expect them to perform well in that environment.

Also keep in mind that the pH isn’t a problem unless it’s exceptionally low or high as long as the soil is rich and full of nutrients.

Azalea and Rhododendron

Plant some Lenten roses beneath and around your rhododendron and azalea plants for an evergreen show that comes to life in the spring and early summer when they are in bloom (Rhododendron spp.).

Regarding soil characteristics, needed levels of moisture, and lighting, they have a lot in common. They make perfect companion plants, so you can’t go wrong.

Do hellebores spread?

Hellebore seeds will self-sow, yes. However, if you grow various species adjacent to one another, permitting them to do so can produce unexpected hybrids. Any new seedlings that are too close to mature plants should be thinned off. After three years, self-sown plants should begin to bloom.

Do hellebores need to be divided?

Even while it’s not typically necessary for the plant’s health, the best time to divide them is in the fall. In general, it’s better to just leave hellebores alone because they can be picky about being moved and dug up.

What environments do hellebores prefer?

John Massey, the owner of the nursery, offers his suggestions and guidance on how to cultivate hellebores in your garden.

As long as a few straightforward rules are followed, hellebores are simple plants to grow. Although they are “snow-melt” plants, and if you can grow them on a slope, they will automatically be well drained, they love a rich soil with plenty of available moisture during their flowering time, but they also demand excellent drainage. In their natural environment, the majority are found on slightly alkaline soils, although as long as there are adequate of nutrients, it doesn’t really matter if the soil is neutral or slightly acidic. Steer clear of peaty soils, poor dry soils, and wet areas.

It’s crucial to provide them with a protected location away from chilly winds. Hellebores will endure dryer summer weather as long as there is some shade, but keep in mind that year-round overshading can diminish the amount of flowers. The best place for them to thrive is among deciduous shrubs and trees, which will offer them with plenty of light in the winter and spring and some welcome shade in the summer.

I like to combine middle-storey shrubs like Cornus officinalis and Ribes ‘White Icicle’ with Helleborus x hybridus Ashwood Garden Hybrids; these shrubs can be pruned as needed to raise the canopy. Decadent trees’ top stories provide even greater defense from wind and intense sunshine. To lengthen the growing season, I also prefer to plant some non-seeding herbaceous geraniums with July blooms between the hellebores; cultivars like “Rozanne” and “Anne Folkard” work best.

The most crucial step in soil preparation is before planting. Because hellebores have deep roots, amend your soil well and add a lot of humus, such as leaf mould, spent mushroom compost, or well-rotted manure. Keep in mind to water your newly planted hellebores frequently for the first year.

Early in the spring and again in August or September, when the new flower buds are beginning to form, I feed my plants. I frequently use leftover mushroom compost, which has some lime, because it frequently releases nutrients. Be careful not to mulch into the plant’s crown as this could lead to the decay of the buds. I also deal with fish, blood, and bone, and seaweed fertilizer is a wonderful substitute.

In late December, I prefer to remove all the old leaves off semi-deciduous plants (Garden Hybrids or Lenten Roses only). By preventing the growing buds from hiding under the old leaves, this will make the flowers much easier to notice and safeguard them from rodent attacks. If you don’t need the seed after flowering, cut off the old, faded flower stems to promote the growth of new growth the following year. A systemic fungicide should be applied to them on occasion, and you should watch out for aphids in particular because they might spread viruses.

The Ashwood team has provided further cultural insights on raising more

My hellebores are dying, why?

The illness that produces stunting, distortion, and black streaking and netting patterns on the leaves is known among hellebore producers as “black death.” It is most likely brought on by the Helleborus net necrosis virus (HeNNV).

How frequently should hellebores be watered?

Hellebores are flowering, evergreen plants also known as Lenten roses. Due to their petite, rose-like blossoms that often bloom around Lent or in the early spring, the plants are also known as Lenten roses.

This is one of the earliest plants to bloom and has one of the longest-lasting blooms because to its long-lasting blossoms, which usually endure from February to May. If you’re thinking about planting hellebores, you should be aware that these plants grow best in zones four through nine, with the exception of zones six through nine where they remain evergreen.

Light Requirements

Because they are reasonably simple to grow and do well in a range of environments, hellebores are a fantastic choice for folks who may not have a green thumb. Although hellebores can thrive in both full sun and full shade, they prefer situations with partial shade. The length of their blooming period can be shortened or completely eliminated by placing them in full sun.


Hellebores require water in order to develop a root system. It is advised that you water them once to twice a week with enough water that the soil is damp an inch below the surface. In the fall and spring, when they are actively growing, they also require water. This plant does not require as much water throughout the summer because heat makes it go dormant.

Soil & Fertilizing

Rich, wet soil often promotes the optimum growth of hellebores. The dirt shouldn’t be very wet, though. The soil need to drain well. You want the soil to retain moisture while draining sufficiently to prevent water from pooling at the plant or root’s base. Using manure and/or compost to fertilize the area around the plant is also highly advised. It is advised to apply manure in the early fall to encourage growth and provide your plant with the nutrients it needs to produce the lovely blossoms you like to see. This should be carried out in the spring if you are using compost. During the winter, avoid using compost around the plant because it could suffocate it.

Should hellebore weed be reduced?

Not only galanthus lovers are experiencing a fever in the garden at this time of year. Fans of hellebore still adore these wild plants because they provide something delicate to find in the dappled light of early spring.

Hellebores (Helleborus), a member of the Ranunculaceae or buttercup family, have its origins in the Balkans. Their blossoming season lasts from December till the beginning of May.

At Great Comp Garden in Kent, William Dyson has been raising hellebores for 40 years. According to him, lenten rose varieties can be found practically everywhere that is wet, well-drained, and has dappled shadow. In our woodland, we have hundreds of them growing.

Hellebore pruning and maintenance

In order to stop black spot spores from infecting the new growth that appears in the new year, we remove old leaves from our plants in the early days of December. Even though hellebores are evergreen, they don’t require pruning, and in my own yard, I have a few clumps of double-flowered hybrids that have never been cut back.

In order to avoid skin irritation from the hellebore’s sap, William encourages gardeners to prune their hellebores while wearing gloves. Look out for any new growth while wearing gloves and holding a pair of secateurs. Cut off the growth from the previous year at the plant’s base when it emerges.

In order to prevent blossom droop, hellebore growers should place their plants in a forest area that offers protection from the elements and receives adequate dappled sunshine. It’s also a good idea to direct plants toward the sun.

When asked why hellebores droop, William responds, “I’m frequently questioned. It seems that they do this as a defense mechanism against rain, sleet, and snow. Flowers produced through hybridization with Helleborus niger won’t droop since this species faces outwards rather than drooping.

Hellebore varieties

William emphasizes that there are many types available, making it worthwhile to select your hellebores not only for their flowers but also for their leaves.” Helleborus niger ‘Snowdrift’ and Helleborus hybridus ‘Pink Ballerina’ have been added this year, expanding the hellebore collection in our core forest areas.

The latter is an orientalis hybrid that blooms in profusion from January through March with several completely double, light pink flowers. These plants have incredibly unique foliage that is captivating all year long.

William advises a visit to Ashwood Nurseries in the West Midlands if you’re looking to buy a hellebore.”

The magnificent plants at Ashwood Nurseries are owned by John Massey VMH, who has been producing hellebores for decades and is the global expert on them. I suggest going to witness his hybrids as well as the owner’s own creation, “John’s Garden.”

Hellebores at Great Comp

Get motivated by the stunning display of hellebores in the woodland at Great Comp Garden:

The public can now visit Great Comp Garden every day of the week. Visit to learn more.