How to Grow Hellebores

Another Early Spring Favourite

Part of our Spring Flowering Plants guide: By Daniel Woodley at DIY Gardening

Hellebores are the ultimate early spring-flowering plant, with blooms present from the start of the year up until Easter.

Deep leathery green leaves serve as the perfect backdrop to the brightly coloured blooms – choose from deep velvet and shiny black to pure cream, white, pink and veined purple + many more, including lime and yellow.

Grow in large, deep pots and in borders or in woodland for winter and early spring garden colour.

Plant details:

  • Usually sold as potted plants from late autumn into early spring.
  • Seeds can be collected and sowed from spring.
  • Well suited to large, deep pots, mixed borders and woodland with spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Lush, deep green foliage adds interest at the dullest time of year.
  • Bee and pollinator-friendly (single flowered variety).
  • Thrives in dappled, partial and full shade.

Size

Height: Up to 40cm (16in)

Spread: Up to 40cm (16in) 

Location

Borders, beds, deep containers, sheltered rock gardens, mixed with bulbs, under tree canopy, woodland

Sunlight

Ideally in dappled, partial or full shade but some survive full sun

Hardiness

Hardy perennial US zone 6-9 and all parts of the UK

Water & Feed

No special watering or fertiliser requirements but they prefer rich soil and may struggle in hot, dry containers

Companions

Tulips, daffodils

Planting

Anytime of year provided the ground isn’t frozen

Flowering

Expect year-round foliage and blooms from January into April

Dark purple hellebores

Everything You Need to Know About Growing Hellebores

How Do Hellebores Plants Arrive?

Hellebores are a winter and early spring favourite so potted plants can be found in garden centres from the turn of the year into early spring.

Seeds can be collected from late spring into early summer and can be sown at this time. Seed grown Hellebores can take several years to bloom, hence the higher cost of buying potted, established plants.

Where is the best place to plant Hellebores?

Hellebores can be located under tree canopies, amongst taller plants or mixed with other spring-flowering favourites such as bulbs.

Grow in woodland, borders, beds, deep pots and larger containers.

Are Hellebores hardy?

Hellebores are a hardy perennial and most are evergreen, so they keep their lush green foliage all year.

Hardy to US zones 6-9 and all parts of the UK, you won’t have any problems with cold winters in the UK.

How much sunlight do Hellebores need?

Hellebores prefer partial shade, but this tough plant performs well in full sun, dappled and even full shade.

They can often be seen under tree canopies and in woodland.

Do Hellebores require fertile soil?

Fertile, rich soil is best for Hellebores but they may struggle in boggy, wet ground conditions as drainage is important.

Add leafmould or mushroom compost to improve the soil if required.

Bulb fibre compost is great for potted hellebores.

How and when should Hellebores be planted?

Hellebore seeds should be sown in spring while potted plants can be dug into the garden at any time of the year provided the soil isn’t frozen.

The most common times of year to plant Hellebores are from late autumn to late winter and into early spring.

Hellebores don’t like to be moved once the roots are established and are best grown from seeds rather than division.

Are there any pests and diseases that affect Hellebores?

There are three notable pests:

Early season aphids – these pests do most of the damage early in the season before natural predators control their numbers later in the year.

Leaf spot – usually affects Hellebores grown in wet, damp areas and results in brown marks on the leaves. Collect dead or damaged leaves to prevent the spread.

Leaf miner – less common and only affecting some varieties this pest is unlikely to kill the entire plant.

When do Hellebores bloom and how long for?

Hellebores are the perfect bridge between winter and spring but different varieties will bloom at varying times.

Most will flower sometime between January into late April.

Are there any water and fertiliser requirements?

Potted Hellebores may dry out in dry, hot containers during the summer so care should be taken when choosing the pot size as deeper is better.

Watering shouldn’t be needed for Hellebores grown under canopies but almost certainly will in containers.

Fertiliser is entirely optional but if chosen, a general feed should be applied in late spring.

Leafmould or mushroom compost is beneficial in the spring.

Is Hellebore toxic or harmful?

All parts of Hellebores are toxic to dogs, cats and horses and although seldom fatal, the side effects can be serious.

Read more: Hellebore toxicity.

Hayloft Helleborous Orientalis Mix | Hellebore |Hellebore |Fully Hardy Perennial | Shade Loving |3 x 9cm Pot
Hellebore Double Ellen Purple 9cm
Hayloft Helleborous Orientalis Mix | Hellebore |Hellebore |Fully Hardy Perennial | Shade Loving |3 x 9cm Pot
Hellebore Double Ellen Purple 9cm
Hayloft Helleborous Orientalis Mix | Hellebore |Hellebore |Fully Hardy Perennial | Shade Loving |3 x 9cm Pot
Hayloft Helleborous Orientalis Mix | Hellebore |Hellebore |Fully Hardy Perennial | Shade Loving |3 x 9cm Pot
Hellebore Double Ellen Purple 9cm
Hellebore Double Ellen Purple 9cm

How to Care For Hellebores After Flowering

Hellebores are a tough, hardy, often evergreen perennial but follow these tips, so they thrive year on year:

  • After it’s finished blooming remove the dead flowers and leaves to prevent rot and disease.
  • Provide an optional dose of feed towards the end of spring to prepare the plant for the season ahead.
  • Avoid relocating Hellebores as they often die or refuse to flower for a year or two until established again.
  • Hellebores dislike hot dry containers so move the pots during the summer or keep them well watered.

Hellebore Companion Plants

These six spring-flowering plants go well with Hellebores:

Daniel’s Hellebore Pro Tips

Hellebores are best grown from potted plants as seeded plants can take up to four years to produce their first blooms, hence why Hellebores are one of the more expensive plants you’ll find in the garden centre.

As Hellebores can be planted at any time of the year, look out for plants in the clearance section of your local garden centre, where you can pick up a bargain.

Single flowered Hellebores are good for pollinators such as bumblebees that may arrive in spring. Double flowered varieties do not benefit any pollinators, so choose your plant carefully if you want to help bees.

Hellebores have deep roots, so when planting, give them plenty of space down as well as horizontally.

While they can be grown in winter hanging baskets, it’s unlikely they will survive long term as there isn’t enough vertical space, and they dislike being relocated.

Rich, fertile soil is beneficial and some say crucial, so add mushroom compost or leafmould and top up yearly as required.

More From Daniel Woodley:

This guide to growing spring-flowering Hellebores was created by Daniel Woodley here at DIY Gardening and was last updated in January 2022.

Discover more spring-flowering bulbs and plants here.

Daniel is a keen amateur gardener who also manages a large residential landscape in addition to his own mid-size garden.

He also enjoys growing vegetables and fruits as well as his herbaceous border and container garden.

More About Daniel Woodley

Danny Woodley

Explore More of Our Content Below:

The Best Plants for a Low Maintenance Garden

We think these are the best plants for a low-maintenance garden but of course, no plant is 100% maintenance-free. Explore our list today. Start Here

Garden Plants For North-Facing Gardens

A shaded north-facing garden doesn’t mean you have to miss out on beautiful plants, explore our guide to plants for shaded gardens. Start Here

Plants for Winter Colour

Say goodbye to dull, grey winters by choosing plants that produce colour all through the cold season. From annuals to perennials we’ve got plants you’ll love. Start Here.

This Hellebore growing guide was published by DIY Gardening

About Us

Hannah Miller
Danny Woodley