Have you grown hellebores yet?

I have long been a big fan of hellebores. I planted ours about four years ago. They were a bit slow to get established, which apparently is not altogether unusual. Then last year–their third year–they took off. This year they are really making a show of themselves. I tidied mine up yesterday and thought I would do a little show and tell. But now I can’t resist a bit of hellebores boosterism too. So if you haven’t yet added some to your garden, let me offer seven reasons why you should.


1. Hellebores can be grown in a variety of locations. They are most famously known as shade plants. That is true. They do grow nicely in the shade, as you can see from the hellebores on the north side of our house. But they are very flexible plants and will bloom very nicely, thank you very much, in partly sunny areas as well.

2. Hellebores bloom very early. Here in Maryland they bloom in February–long before the forsythia and daffodils make an appearance–and last well into summer.

3. Hellebores are green all year long. Unlike some perennials, such as irises, that get unsightly after the blooms are spent, hellebores keep up their appearance even in the coldest and hottest months of the year.


4. Hellebores require little care. Once you have established hellebores in a well-prepared bed, the only maintenance required is trimming off the old foliage in February or late winter or when they become scraggly. Divide them in the spring to ensure good ventilation.

5. Although not the boldest colors in the garden, hellebores come in a variety of colors, from white to pink to deep purple to green.


6. Hellebores have relatively few pests and diseases. Although no plant is invulnerable to attack, hellebores are amazingly hardy.

7. Once established, hellebores are drought tolerant. And if you lived through the drought last summer like I did, you know there are lots of other plants that are much more finicky about their water than hellebores.


Are you convinced yet? And if you have them, how are you hellebores?

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  • You’re preaching to the choir here. I just read a newspaper article yesterday quoting the owners of Munchkin Nursery describing Hellebores as “cast-iron plants.” That’s a pretty good way to describe them. Yours truly are outstanding this year. Still waiting for mine to do anything.

    Be patient with those hellebores. I have heard from more than one gardener that it takes two or three years for them to get settled.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Jane Marie says:

    You’ve convinced me. As soon as the snow disappears and the greenhouses open, I’m going shopping!

    I found that my local nursery didn’t have a good selection at all. If I recall correctly, I got mine from Wayside Gardens. There are lots of other resources if you can’t find them locally.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Connie says:

    I have one tiny plant I obtained from a garden friend last year, so I am watching to see if it will do anything this year. I love the fact that they bloom so early, when our eyes are starved for color!

    Starved for color, yes! And it just helps us know that spring will, indeed, eventually arrive!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Nancy Bond says:

    Beautiful plants and they look like they’re thriving. Very pretty.

    I do think they’re thriving. Frankly, I don’t recall having seen so many blooms on the hellebores that I have seen in other place, although I probably wasn’t there at the right time. I’m just tickled pink with mine.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • The foliage on mine dies back over the winter. The new foliage is just peeking from the earth, so it is the right time to trim the old foliage away around here. They will bloom late April to early May:

    Kathy, you’re a hearty soul for living so far north. To think that even hellebores die back!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Priscilla says:

    Great post. I’ve been so envious of everyones hellebores pictures. I don’t have any and sadly no shade or even partial sun to plant them if I wanted to. Maybe when I have a real yard and not a balcony I’ll be sure to give them a try.

    Balcony gardens can be beautiful! But, of course, you can’t grow everything.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Kim says:

    Your hellebores are much more lush than mine! (Of course, mine have been moved quite a bit more than yours, I bet.) I love them, though… even when they aren’t in bloom they have such handsome foliage.

    I love the foliage too. I read where you shouldn’t compost the leaves though because they take a year to break down. I’m patient. I just tossed them in.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • jodi says:

    They HATE my place, Robin. Well, they hate my climate, with the long, cold wet winter that goes right into spring. I’ve tried for years and not succeeded, but last year I got one more and planted it in a different location, underneath the hamamelis. When the snow came off a month ago for a couple of days, it was doing fine–with flower buds showing–so on the advice of others with more positive experience, I covered it with evergreens because I knew we’d have more snow and frigid weather (among other weather tantrums). Today I went out and peeked, as the snow has receded, and the buds look okay–so I might have a success this year. Maybe.
    On the other hand, the first clump of snowdrops has emerged! There is hope!

    I’ll be looking to see if they bloom. Maybe with all the care you’ve given there is hope?

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Add me to the Hellebore Fan Club. I’m waiting for mine to bloom. They seem to be taking their time this year, but they are in the shade on the north side of the house, so it is probably colder over there.

    Plus this year I’ve noticed several little hellebore seedlings around my two plants. I’m going to transplant those around and hopefully in a few years I’ll have some new blooming plants. I wonder what the blooms will look like on those seedlings?

    I think I’ll need to divide mine too. I read that the seeds take months to germinate! You would definitely need patience to start these from seeds.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I agree for all the reasosn you listed, Hellebores are a must have plant in any garden.

  • Robin says:

    I’ll be on the lookout for hellebores this year. I discovered them just last year from other garden bloggers and I’m becoming quite fond of them.

  • Amy says:

    I hope they’ll grow in my zone. I love these plants and never would have guessed they were so easy care and drought tolerant. I’ll be adding these to my wish list.