- Position: partial shade
- Soil: heavy, neutral to alkaline soil including heavy soil
- Rate of growth: average
- Flowering period: January to February
- Other features: all parts of the plant cause severe discomfort if ingested; the sap may cause skin irritation; dark greyish-green leaves give off an unpleasant odour when crushed
- Hardiness: fully hardy
Despite its evocative name, this lovely hellebore is rarely in flower by Christmas. But the white, bowl-shaped flowers are well worth waiting for, brightening up those dark winter days. The flowers appear on short stems, are sometimes flushed with pink, and unusually for hellebores, are usually upturned rather than nodding. They last for two to three months, and the handsome evergreen foliage is deeply cut and dark green. One of the earliest flowering plants, this is best planted in groups at the front of a partially shady mixed border, or beneath deciduous shrubs among spring-flowering bulbs. In former times, hellebores were planted close to cottage doors to prevent evil spirits from crossing the threshold.
- Garden care: Add lots of well-rotted leaf mould or organic matter to the planting hole. Cut the old leaves back down to the ground in January or February as this will show off the new emerging flowers to best effect. It will also help to get rid of foliar diseases such as Hellebore leaf spot. Apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted organic matter around the base of the plant in autumn and provide a top-dressing of general fertiliser each spring.
- Harmful if eaten/skin irritant
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11 Questions | 16 Answers
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Q:Creating a Winter Garden
Dear Crocus I am wanting to create a " winter garden " area and fancy an Acer griseum as the central feature. I had thought of planting a Cornus Midwinter Fire and Bergenia 'Bressingham Ruby' to complement the scheme but I would welcome any other suggestions please. Many thanks ClaireAsked on 2/26/2010 by CLAIRE LAWTON
A:Hello Claire, If you click on the following link it will take you to all our winter flowering plants. I would definitely recommend hellebores and snowdrops, perhaps some Cyclamen and and Euonymus fortunei for foliage colour. http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/vid.204/ I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 3/1/2010 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Are Heavenly Hellebores poisonous?
Would you give me any information on how poisonous these plants are? Thanks BillieAsked on 2/23/2010 by Anonymous
A:Hello again Billie, I'm sorry you feel this way, and we would hate to think that you felt we were irresponsible or misleading. We do put a warning on each of our plant cards stating if a plant is toxic, so all the hellebores do have the information regarding their toxicity up there for all to see. We would not however think that all plants which may be deemed toxic should not be withdrawn from sale, as this would exclude a vast number of beautiful and commonly grown plants such as all the bulbs (like daffodils and tulips), Ivy, Wisteria and many many more. It is also worth keeping in mind that lots of our edible crops are toxic too. Things like like rhubarb, potatoes, apples and tomatoes can all cause problems (some quite serious) if the wrong bits are eaten or if they are eaten at the wrong stage of development. I think really the best approach is to expect that all plants have the potential to be poisonous and try to ensure that the children are taught that they should not be eating things that are growing in the garden without parental supervision. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 2/25/2010 by Crocus Helpdesk
A:Thanks, I am a bit surprised they don't come with health warning! My mother in law had some and suggested I plant some in my garden where children are frequent guests! I feel it is irresponsible to market such plants if they are that dangerous! Thanks BillieAnswered on 2/25/2010 by Crocus Helpdesk
A:Hello Billie, All parts of the plant cause severe discomfort if eaten and the sap may cause skin irritation in some people. Unfortunately though it is difficult to be more precise as the reaction will vary from person to person. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 2/25/2010 by BILLIE
Q:Which Hellebores can I grow in a chalk soil?
Hi Your Hellebore photos were such a tonic on this cold grey morning. I have tried two or three in a garden I am involved with, but they are not doing anything much. They are also dull. I was told that the lighter coloured ones wouldn't do well in chalk soil. Could you please settle the argument for me, - are there certain Hellebores that can't be grown in chalk soil and which of the lovely varieties you show on your website can I grow in my garden up on the chalk downs of east Kent ? Many thanks in anticipation ............Asked on 2/23/2010 by Rosemary Simpson
A:Dear Plant Doctor Thank you for the information. Once I get back into the garden again, in a week or so, I shall review the "hellebore situation" and make some changes. Many thanks until I contact you again.Answered on 2/23/2010 by Crocus Helpdesk
A:Hello There, There are a few hellebores that won't tolerate chalk, but all the ones we sell will grow in neutral to alkaline soils. Therefore they should be fine in your garden as long as the pH is not too high. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 2/26/2010 by Rosemary Simpson
Q:Hellebores in trouble!
Hello please help! I have around ten different hellebores in my (small) garden, and one of the orientalis (pink) varieties had black blotches and wilted .I have tried cutting it back but it still seems to reblotch. All the advise I can find other than cutting back, is to dig it up, and destroy the plant which seems rather drastic, but now I think that two others are suffering too. I don't want to lose them as they are my absolute favourite plants. In eager anticipation JulieAsked on 2/23/2010 by Julie Bentley
A:Thank you, how sad though! JulieAnswered on 2/23/2010 by Crocus Helpdesk
A:Hello Julie, There are two things that could cause the symptoms you describe. Hellebore Leaf Blotch is the least serious, but rarely affects H. orientalis, so I suspect it may be Helleborus Black Death. This makes the foliage, stems and flowers are marked with black streaks or spots, especially along the veins and the plants are often distorted and stunted. This is caused by a virus and unfortunately that means there is no cure so the affected plant should be removed and replaced. I'm sorry not to be more help. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 2/23/2010 by Julie Bentley
Q:Plant advice for 2 new beds please
Hello, I need some help to decide which plants to put into two new areas please:- 1: A semi-circle flash bed at the front of the house, size approx 2m x 0.80m and 0.80m deep. I thought about the 3 following options for a small tree/bush in the middle:- a) Magnolia soulangeana, but I was worried about the size that it could grow to and possible problems with roots etc . Will it stay small if the size of the container is used to restrict it? b) Witch Hazel (Hamamelis intermediana 'Diane'). Will it spread too much? I think this is very pretty. c) Corylus avellana 'contorta' Then I also need to think about ground cover plants to help suppress weeds. I am only interested in fully hardy, easy to look after plants, could be with some flowers or coloured leaves. 2:- A thin path between neighbours (approx 2m x 0.40). My idea is to plant bamboo. I would love a modern thin run of bamboo with ground cover. My worry is which bamboos to use. I love the yellow, like Phyllostychys aureocaulis (Golden Grove) but not sure if it is strong enough as it could be exposed to some wind. I bought from you a couple of years ago the Phyllostychys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis' which I planted in pots but it died this year. I see on your website some other bamboos but I don't like them as much as their canes seems less exposed and have a lot more foliage. But possibly these would be a better alternative... ...? For the ground cover I as thinking of Ophiopogen nigrescen. Do you think these plants will be suitable, or have you any other suggestions? Thank you for your help, GaliaAsked on 2/15/2010 by e moran
A:Hello Galia, All of the taller shrubs you mentioned for the semi-circular bed will get quite large, but their growth will be restricted (both in height and spread) if they are kept in a pot where their roots are restricted. For groundcover you could opt for any of the following:- Bergenia http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.bergenia/ Helleborus http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.helleborus/ Heuchera http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.heuchera/ Epimedium http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.epimedium/ Geranium http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.geranium/ Erica http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.erica/ As for the bamboos, even the most well behaved one (Fargesia murieliae) will spread to around 1.5m across so you should keep this in mind when planting it in such a confined space. Perhaps a better option would be one of our hedging plants, which can be cut back hard against the wall. Taxus http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/shrubs/trees/hedging/conifer/bigger-trees/best-in-very-large-gardens-parks/taxus-baccata-/classid.6230/ or Ligustrum http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/shrubs/hedging/ligustrum-ovalifolium-/classid.4093/ would be good options. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 2/16/2010 by Crocus Helpdesk
Hi, I need to buy and plant some Hellebores, but I am not sure how many I need. I have 4 borders to plant area is 8.4 sq mtrs, 2.1 sq mtrs, 4.2 sq mtrs and 5.6 sq mtrs please could you advise on how many plants and varieties? They are for an old hotel building so I guess red, white and pink colours? Please could you also give me prices as I think I will need a few plants! Regards JasonAsked on 12/2/2009 by KM ILES
A:Hello Jason, We do offer a bespoke planting plan service, however we do charge for this service. Alternatively you can have a look at our full range on the following link, choose the ones you like the look of and work on the basis that you will need 9 per square metre. The prices are all on our site. http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.helleborus/ I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 12/3/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Winter flowering plants for window boxes
Dear Plant Doctor, I am about to purchase the Sloane Window Boxes and would like to order some plants at the same time. Can you please advise which plants and flowers might survive for the winter? I don't like Cyclamen and Pansies too much. Many Thanks. DeeAsked on 11/4/2009 by Dee Coggins
A:Hello Dee, If you want seasonal bedding, which tends to be the most colourful, the Primroses or Polyanthus may be your best option - just click on the link s below to go straight to them http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/bedding/primrose-rosebud/classid.2000013042/ http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/bedding/polyanthus-high-seas/classid.2000013041/ Alternatively you could consider the following Erica http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/shrubs/heathers/erica-carnea-rosalie/classid.533/ Helleborus http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.Helleborus/ I hope this gives you a few ideas. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 11/4/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Hello, I would like to plant some hellebores in my garden. Can you tell me the best time of year to plant them? Thanks FionaAsked on 10/14/2009 by Fiona McCowan
A:Hello Helen, Many thanks for your prompt response. Great, I will plant some now and hopefully they will flower in the spring. Regards FionaAnswered on 10/14/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
A:Hello Fiona, They are best planted in autumn or early spring, but the container grown ones can be planted at any time of the year. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 10/14/2009 by Fiona McCowan
Q:Plants for outside my front door
Hi Crocus I live in a flat and have pots outside my external front door. What plants can I grow in pots, in semi shade that will attract the bees? Thank you for your help. Kind regards GuyAsked on 7/29/2009 by Guy Smith
A:Hello Guy, The following plants would be suitable for your pots. Forget-me-not (Myosotis species) Bellflowers (Campanula species) Cranesbill (Geranium species) Dahlia - single-flowered species and cultivars Hellebores (Helleborus species) Japanese anemone (Anemone ?? hybrida) Fritillaries (Fritillaria species) Grape hyacinth (Muscari species) Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) Box (Buxus sempervirens) Christmas box (Sarcococca species) I hope this helps, Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 7/30/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Help for a shady damp spot please
Hi I'm looking for plants for a damp shady spot in my garden. It's a raised, north-facing bed and stays damp most of the year, and the soil is compost-rich. I'd love to get some colour in there as I look out on to it from my kitchen window so I was wondering about Hollyhocks, Flag Irises or maybe Heuchera? I also have a very big slug problem though - tried Sambucus nigra last year and it was eaten! Please, what can you suggest? I look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards MaryAsked on 7/24/2009 by mary culhane
A:Hello Mary, Most flowering plants prefer a sunnier spot, and few plants can cope if the soil remains too wet, however you could consider any of the following Alchemilla http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.alchemilla/ Ferns http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/ferns/plcid.309/ Helleborus http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.helleborus/ Hydrangea http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.hydrangea/ Persicaria http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.persicaria/ Rhododendron http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.rhododendron/ Vinca http://www.crocus.co.uk/search/_/search.vinca/ I hope this gives you a few ideas. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 7/27/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
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