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Tidying Hellebores

I adore hellebores for their resilience. When other flowers in the garden are fast asleep hellebores decide it is time to show off by putting on a delightful floral display. They bloom in shades of lavender, pink, burgundy, purple, green, and yellow to cheer the winter garden. When I see the first blossoms peak out through the foliage, I take this as a cue to give my hellebores a quick clean-up. Faded foliage can often hide many of the cheery blooms. Trimming back dead foliage will ensure the rose-like blossoms are not missed. Simply cut browned leaves back to the base. Work slowly to avoid accidently cutting off the flower stalks.

Hellebore Before Pruning

Dead foliage obscures winter blossoms and distract from the lovely evergreen foliage.

Hellebore after cutting back.

Cutting back old foliage exposes blossoms as well as lime-green new growth. It also reveals seedlings around the base of the plant, which can be transplanted to other areas of the garden.

Pruned and un-pruned hellebores.

Compare the hellebores before and after cutting back dead foliage.

Common hellebore species:

  • Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) – flowers near the Christmas season

  • Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis) – nodding blossoms late winter or early spring

  • Stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) – clusters of drooping, lime-green flowers early spring

Hellebores prefer shaded, woodland conditions and fertile soils. Many species are very tolerant of dry soils and drought.

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