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Purple and pale green flowers on a dark green hellebore bush
Hellebore is famous for flowering in the winter months when most of the garden is asleep. It is reliable and hardy and provides welcome colour to cheer up the dull winter days.

 

What you need to know about hellebore

Name: hellebores, winter rose, Helleborus orientalis species, hybrids and varieties.

Height: around 50cm when in flower and about 60cm wide.

Foliage: evergreen. 

Climate: cold temperate, warm temperate. 

Soil: prefers deep, well-drained soil, but is adaptable to most soil types except wet clay or really sandy soils. 

Position: light shade. 

Flowering: various flower colours, from yellow and white through to dark purple.  Hellebore flowers in winter. 

Feeding: feed with a balanced, complete fertiliser in late autumn. 

Watering: occasional water in summer.

Appearance and characteristics of hellebore

Hellebore is a perennial plant that holds its foliage all year. Flower stems arise from the centre of the plant in late autumn and early winter to provide flowers for the winter months. The flowers are cup-shaped and semi-pendulous on the stalks, and there can be dozens at a time.  

Breeding has produced a stunning array of flower forms and colours, from pure white through to almost completely black. Some flowers are spotted or striped, and others have different-coloured edges. Flowers also come in the original five-petalled form, while other varieties have masses of petals. 

A purple helleborus flower

Uses for hellebore

Because hellebore flowers in winter, it is a great addition to any garden. Use it to add life to a garden area that is otherwise having a winter rest. The flowers can also be cut and brought inside for a vase. 

How to plant and grow hellebore

  1. The ideal place to grow this perennial is under a deciduous tree, as this gives it plenty of sun in winter and then shades the plant when the leaves grow back on the tree.
  2. Plant out at any time of the year in a garden bed that has been prepared with added compost. Hellebore will withstand frost and cold, but not humidity.

Caring for your hellebore

Hellebore really doesn’t take much work. Mulch it in the summer months to keep the roots cool. The plant can be fed with a complete garden fertiliser in late autumn to give it a boost for the winter flowers.

How and when to prune a hellebore

You can remove very old leaves that have become ratty by taking them off very close to the ground. Do this in winter when the newer leaves have already emerged.

Diseases and pests affecting a hellebore

Hellebore is rarely troubled by pests or diseases. It is occasionally attacked by aphids, so keep your eye out for these and spray with a garden insecticide if they occur. Make sure you spray the underside of the leaves too, as these pests are often found there. 

If grown in too sunny a spot, the leaves can become scorched. In this case, it will be time to relocate the plant to a spot out of summer sun. Do this in late autumn or winter.

Hellebore propagation

Dividing hellebore 

As hellebore is an herbaceous perennial, it will form large clumps over time. These can be dug up and divided in late autumn to provide new plants.

Growing hellebore from seed

Hellebore can be grown from seed, but the new plants may have different flowers to the ones you propagate from.

  1. Collect the black seeds from the pods as soon as they have gone hard.
  2. Sow them in seedling trays using a seed-raising mix and lightly cover them.
  3. When the seedlings are large enough, move them into individual pots.
  4. Plant out after a year. It may take two or three years for the plants to flower from seed.

If you like this then try

Salvia: a range of colours and sizes to suit any garden. 

Peonies: amazing large and showy flowers in the spring.

Fuchsias: pinks and purples are a feature of these flowers, which look like little ballerinas.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing.

 

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

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