Add Color to Your Landscape: Hellebores

— Written By Amy Jordan
en Español / em Português

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Hellebores is a perennial evergreen and can be used as a border plant. It has white petals that turn pink and continue to bloom through the winter until spring. The plant can survive a winter frost. When it gets cold, it’s time for the hellebores to shine. Remove excessive leaves to expose long-lasting, showy blossoms from November through March. The blossoms are delicate yet tough and quite picturesque in the winter. Be aware that all hellebores are toxic if ingested. The plant has shiny green leaves, light patterning, dark and leathery. The leaves look peaked in the summer but perk up in September and October.

They are not winter pollinators, but in the spring, they are a good source of food for insects – the bumble bee, in particular, loves the nectar. Hellebores do attract pests such as slugs and snails. Diatomaceous Earth is recommended to keep these pests under control.

The hellebores require weekly watering, but only to keep the soil moist. It is best if the soil is organic pH neutral. No mulch is needed. Compost every couple of years.

Hellebores should not be pruned back in the winter, but dead foliage and old flower stems should be trimmed away.

Because of the cost of licensing fees and royalties on the original patent, the price of a hellebores is quite expensive. The seeds are much more economical but it may take up to four years for the plant to flower. The hellebores can be planted in the spring or the fall and the plant will survive a winter freeze, but do not plant in the summer. The plant needs moist soil and can tolerate full sun to almost full shade and drought.

Article was written by: Julia Morris, Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer in Dare County