London (change)
Today 22°C / 14°C
Tomorrow 21°C / 15°C

Growing hellebores

Growing hellebores

A must-have for the winter garden, hardy hellebores flower from late-winter to early spring. They also make great cut flowers - simply snip off flower heads and float in a shallow bowl of water.

There are many varieties of hellebore, ranging from the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, to the stinking hellebore, Helleborus foetidus. Hellebores provide a great source of colour in the winter months - some flower as early as December - and will tolerate full sun to almost full shade. They're rarely troubled by pests and diseases and will self-seed readily all over the garden.

Also popular is the Lenten rose hybrid, Helleborus x hybridus, whose flowers range in colour from immaculate white to virtually black, with nearly every shade of green, yellow, pink and purple in between.

They grow in most conditions, but thrive in well-drained, humus-rich soil, out of direct sunlight. Avoid moving or dividing them once established.

Hellebore varieties include:


Lenten rose, <i>Helleborus</i> x <i>hybridus</i>

Lenten rose, Helleborus x hybridus

Bears clusters of saucer-shaped flowers coloured white, pink, green, mauve or smoky purple. Blooms may be plain or patterned. Plants will self-seed readily. Height/spread 45cm x 30cm.

Corsican hellebore, <i>Helleborus argutifolius</i>

Corsican hellebore, Helleborus argutifolius

Produces pendent, bowl-shaped, green flowers set against spiny, evergreen foliage. Height/spread 1.2m x 90cm.

Christmas rose, <i>helleborus niger</i>

Christmas rose, helleborus niger

Despite its name, it's not that likely to flower for Christmas - more usually seen flowering from late-winter. Flowers are white, though sometimes flushed pink, and flat-faced. Height/spread 30cm x 45cm.

Stinking hellebore, <i>Helleborus foetidus</i>

Stinking hellebore, Helleborus foetidus

Has more finely divided, elegant foliage than most hellebores, which produces an unpleasant smell when crushed. Bears clusters of nodding, lime-green flowers from midwinter to mid-spring. Height/spread 40cm x 45cm.




Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: Growing hellebores
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

hayinwood 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I bought some hellebores as cut flowers thier still going strong after two weeks, so l'm definately going to get some seeds and try to grow some!

lorrie-koolkats 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I have a number of hellebores around my garden, some in shade and some in full sun and they all do amazingly well. In spite of all the snow we have had recently they are all covered in a mass of buds, some of which have already started bursting.
To enable me to see the flowers better I take all the leaves off the plant safe in the knowledge that new leaves will grow once the flowering has finished.

navrsi 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I live in Czech Republic. The tempreture here has not gone above freezing since the second week of December and we still have over a meter of frozen snow. Any chance of me growing Hellebores here. I am english and have yet to get used to the difference in seasons.

czechruralholidays 24/11/2011 at 15:29

Navrsi, I am also in the Czech Republic and grow Hellebores without any problem and have seen a really nice display of them in Ceske Budejovice.

Cir Mhor 08/03/2012 at 10:02

Do hellebores grow well in north east Scotland

See more comments...