Hellebore: The Jewel of Winter

About Hellebore Hybrids

Although there are many different species of Hellebore, this writer wishes to focus solely on Hellebore hybrids. (Hellebore hyrbids are the popular varieties you find in your local garden center).  Hellebore, also known as Lenten Rose, is available in over ten species including Helleborus argutifolius, Helleborus atrorubens, Helleborus foetidus, Helleborus lividus, Helleborus orientalis, Helleborus niger, Helleborus purpurascens, and Helleborus viridis.  A “hybrid” Hellebore, is simply a plant that has been created by crossing any two of these species to generate a new ornamental variety.

Despite the fact that Hellebore originates from Asia minor and Eurasia, you will find that these showy winter jewels flourish in the mountains of North Carolina, the Piedmont, and the coastal plain.  Low maintenance and evergreen, this perennial only gets 1’ to 2’ tall and wide.  Hellebore typically blooms from late January to early May, acting as a nice, long punch of color during our gloomy winter months.


Deer Resistance and Toxicity 

It is important to mention that this perennial is toxic.  Alkaloid toxins within the plant act as a double-edged sword.  Hellebores are deer-resistant, but also a danger to foraging pets.  If your dog or cat is a grazer, this may not be the plant for you.


Landscaping with Hellebores

Hellebore thrives best in full to part shade.  Be careful when choosing a location.  Although this perennial is extremely drought-tolerant, it does best in moist, well-drained soil.

The showy blooms on Hellebores typically face downward,  because of this, many landscape designers try to place the Hellebore strategically.  Raised beds and hillsides are the perfect places to showcase the winter blooms.


Planting Hellebores

Hellebore is very sensitive to poorly drained soil, so take time to make sure your plant will not suffer in compacted garden beds.

Make sure the base of your plant is slightly buried.  This serves to help keep your Hellebore moist.  Take care not to completely bury the crown of the plant, as this will inhibit flower production.


Watering and Fertilizing

Watering in the spring and fall is especially important for Hellebores.  During these times of the year, they are actively growing.  In the summer, however, Hellebores go dormant from the heat and do not require as much water.

Fertilizing can be done in the fall with Bonemeal or Plant-tone.  TSLG recommends mixing compost into your Hellebore beds on a yearly basis.  These are simple practices will help improve overall growth.


Popular Hybrids

Check out the over 50 varieties of Hellebore available from Monrovia!

Hellebore varieties



Armitage, A. M. (2008). Herbaceous Perennial Plants: A Treatise On Their Identification, Culture, and Garden Attributes (3rd ed.). Champaign: Stipes Publishing.

Avent, T. (2010, June 01). Hellebores: Winter Hardy Shade Perennials for the Woodland Garden. Retrieved February 03, 2017, from https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/hellebores-winter-hardy-shade-perennials-for-the-woodland-garden

Monrovia. (n.d.). Hellebores: Winter’s Happy Harbingers. Retrieved February 03, 2017, from http://growbeautifully.monrovia.com/hellebores-springs-happy-harbingers/

NC State University Cooperative Extension. (n.d.). Helleborus orientalis. Retrieved February 03, 2017, from https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/helleborus-orientalis/