Melinda's Low Maintenance Plants: Hellebore


Brighten your late winter/early spring garden with hellebores...

Jumpstart your garden season with these low maintenance, long-blooming perennials with their white to pink to rose-purple flowers.

Use these beauties along a walkway, on a berm or hillside where their flowers can be enjoyed. The straight species have downward facing flowers while newer varieties have been bred for showier, outward facing blooms.

The flowers are actually colorful sepals that may persist in the garden throughout the summer.  Remove the faded flowers to encourage new foliage. 

The glossy leaves are attractive and add texture to the garden. The foliage is evergreen but can become tattered and scorched during our harsh winters. Keep the leaves looking their best by growing these plants in areas sheltered from winter wind or cover with snow for added insulation.

Plant hellebores in full or partial shade with moist, well-drained soil for best results. Once established, hellebores will tolerate dry shade. This makes them a great choice for planting beds under or near large shade trees. Be sure to provide ample moisture the first year or two as the plants become established.  Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist.

Spread a thin layer of shredded leaves, evergreen needles or twice shredded bark over the soil surface. The organic mulch will help keep roots cool and moist, suppress weeds and improve the soil as it breaks down.

Keep these and other perennials healthy and flowering by spreading one to two inches of compost over the soil surface every other year or two. Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer in spring if the plants need a nutrient boost. 

Purchase a few hellebores to brighten any garden in need of some early season color. Once you discover the beauty of these easy care perennials you’ll be looking for more opportunities to include them in your landscape.


Hellebore (Helleborus) at a Glance

Name: Hellebore, Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis), Christmas rose (H. niger)

Size:  12 to 18 inches tall and wide

Light: Part shade to full shade

Water:  Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist. Will tolerate dry shade once established.

Fertilizer: Spread a 1” layer of compost over the soil surface every other year or two. Fertilize in spring with a low nitrogen, slow release fertilizer if plants need a nutrient boost.

Soil: Rich moist with good drainage.  Add organic matter to clay soil to improve drainage while maintaining soil moisture.


Written by, gardening expert, Melinda Myers.  Each month Melinda will feature a low maintenance plant perfect for beginning and experienced gardeners looking for attractive easy care plants.  Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience.  She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Low Maintenance Plant of the Month with you!