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Helleborus foetidus

Stinking hellebore

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Key information

Plant type

Hardy perennial

Flower colour






Skill level


Helleborus foetidus

Plant details

Helleborus foetidus is a compact, evergreen perennial with more finely divided, elegant foliage than most hellebores. In spring its almost ferny clumps are joined by clusters of nodding, lime-green flowers held on thick stems just above the tops of the foliage. The flowers last for several months, and associate well with other spring flowers that enjoy dappled shade such as coloured primroses, violets, dwarf narcissi, grape hyacinth and spring flowering hardy cyclamen the foliage makes a good foil for lily of the valley later, and in autumn looks superb with Iris foetidissima. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Grow in moist but well-drained soil in dappled shade. Like all hellebores, Helleborus foetidus dislikes being moved once established, so should not be divided. Given the right conditions, it will self-seed quite sufficiently to provide replacements.

Family: Raununculaceae

Genus: Helleborus

Species: foetidus

Plant type: Hardy perennial

Flower colour: Green

Foliage colour: Mid-green

Feature: Flowers

Sun exposure: Full sun, Partial shade, Shade

Soil: Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Dry, Moist

Hardiness: Hardy

Skill level: Beginner

Height: 80cm

Spread: 45cm

Time to divide plants: October to March

Reader reviews

heather McCann

It has earned its name. Stinking indeed!Looks can be deceiving!

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