Five of the best hellebores to grow

Eight of the best hellebores to grow

We've picked eight of our favourite hellebores to grow, for late winter and early spring colour.

Hellebores are easy to grow and are undemanding. They look good from January to May – even when their seed has set, their sepals are persistently handsome, eventually becoming green. Their foliage is bold and evergreen, and in some of the new hybrids the marbled leaves are just as celebrated as the flowers.

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Hellebores are typically woodland edge plants. They thrive in rich, moisture-retentive soil but struggle in boggy and wet conditions. Most will tolerate full sun to almost full shade. They lend themselves to naturalistic schemes and informal plantings, and are perfect partners for early-flowering bulbs, pulmonarias and evergreen ferns. The colours of their sepals are multifarious, from the softest woodpigeon grey to pale apricot or damson, and from leaf green to the deepest black or pure white. They can be striped or spotted, picotee or plain, double or anemone-centred or simply single. Almost all of them have evolved methods of successful procreation.

There are fewer pollinators around when hellebores are in flower, but the blooms bear rich nectar and lots of pollen, making them an instant hit for hungry bumblebees. Most hellebores have downward-facing flowers. Not only does this protect the pollen from winter rains but it also offers shelter to the attendant insect while it feeds. One of the most alluring aspects of growing hellebores is the way in which you have to participate with them, gently turning up their faces to appreciate the uniqueness of each individual.

Hellebores also make great cut flowers – simply snip off flower heads and float in a shallow bowl of water.

More on growing hellebores:

Browse our pick of the best hellebores to grow, below.


1

Green hellebore, Helleborus viridis

Best hellebores to grow - Helleborus viridis, Getty Images
Best hellebores to grow – Helleborus viridis, Getty Images

Helleborus viridis is a dainty hellebore with green, chalice-like flowers surrounded by dark foliage. Grow in an open site in well-drained, alkaline soil.
Flowers: Jan-Apr
Height x spread: 30cm x 30cm


2

Christmas rose, Helleborus niger

Best hellebores to grow - Helleborus niger
Best hellebores to grow – Helleborus niger

Though a well-loved garden plant, even skilled gardeners have trouble persuading it to settle. It does best in light soils.
Flowers: Jan-Feb
H x S: 30cm x 45cm


3

Helleborus ‘Penny’s Pink’

Helleborus 'Pennys Pink', Ashwood Nurseries
Helleborus ‘Pennys Pink’, Ashwood Nurseries

This wonderful hybrid hellebore uses Helleborus x ericsmithii as one of the parents. Bold plants with striking marbled foliage.
Flowers: Feb-Apr
H x S: 30cm x 30cm


4

Corsican hellebore, Helleborus argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius, Ashwood Nurseries
Helleborus argutifolius, Ashwood Nurseries

Also known as the Corsican hellebore, this big, bold plant bears several flower stems, each bearing an imposing cluster of large apple-green flowers.
Flowers: Jan-April
H x S: 50cm x 90cm


5

Stinking hellebore, Helleborus foetidus 

Helleborus foetidus – Wester Flisk Group, Ashwood Nurseries
Helleborus foetidus – Wester Flisk Group, Ashwood Nurseries

Wester Flisk Group is a selection from our native ‘stinking hellebore’. It has reddish stems, glaucous foliage and pale globose flowers, sometimes with a red rim.
Flowers: Feb-May
H x S: 50cm x 60cm


6

Helleborus x hybridus Ashwood Garden hybrids

Best hellebores to grow - Ashwood garden hybrids
Best hellebores to grow – Ashwood garden hybrids

Robust yet elegant, Ashwood garden hybrids come in a host of colours and forms, with pure flower colours retained over a long period.
Flowers: Jan-Apr
H x S: 30cm x 30cm


7

Lenten rose, Helleborus x hybridus

Lenten rose, Helleborus x hybridus
Lenten rose, Helleborus x hybridus

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.

Flowers: Mar-May
H x S: 45cm x 30cm


8

Helleborus x ericsmithii

Helleborus x ericsmithii
Helleborus x ericsmithii

Helleborus x ericsmithii is an unusual three-way hybrid hellebore. The evergreen foliage is a rich, deep green, and the flowers are a pale greenish-pink, darkening as they mature.

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Flowers: Mar-Apr
H x S: 45cm x 40cm

Hellebores in containers

Many hellebores perform well in dry soils, so they’re ideally suited for pots and containers, which can dry out quickly. Have a look at these hellebore pots and containers for inspiration. 

Pot cut out