Skip to Content

When Does Hellebore Bloom? How To Extend Flowering Season

When Does Hellebore Bloom? How To Extend Flowering Season

If you happen to face any complications while rephrasing the text, kindly reply with the following error message: Unable to process the request due to encountered difficulties.

Hellebore, with its drooping, rose-shaped flowers in assorted colors and patterns, adds a cheerful touch to any garden as it thrives in the fringes of wooded areas.

Their native habitat also means this plant is tolerant of shady and cold conditions, providing year-long interest. So when can you start to enjoy their flowers?

When does hellebore bloom? Hellebores are one of the earliest perennials to bloom with a period that begins in late winter (around February) and extends into early spring. Hellebores may bloom earlier or later depending on the climate and species. In warm conditions, Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) can bloom at Christmastime.

Hellebores are certainly hardy plants, but they still require a decent amount of care and attention if you want to enjoy bountiful blossoms and a long blooming season.

Keep reading to learn more about this garden favorite including flower colors, ideal growing conditions, and what to do with them during summer.

Hellebore Flowers – What To Know

Hellebore blossoms provide a much-needed burst of color in the dreary winter months, and many varieties bloom long into spring.

Let’s take a look at when they typically bloom, available colors, and what to do with your hellebore once they finish blooming.

Hellebore Bloom Time

You can expect hellebores to bloom anytime between December and April or into May, depending on the species you’re growing and your location.

They fare well in Hardiness Zones 3 to 9, so they’ll typically bloom in early winter in mild climates and very early spring in Zones where the ground freezes hard.

Hellebore Colors

Hellebore colors range from pink, purple, and near black to white, yellow, and jade green. They are often sold in a mix of different colors.

There are many hybrid varieties in striking single colors and speckled variations such as gold, ruby red, and amber shades.

Flower colors begin to fade in the mid-summer heat, but even then, hellebore blooms remain attractive on the plant until they die back in fall, fading to pink and then holly green as they mature.

Longest Blooming Hellebore

The Lenten rose or Helleborus orientalis is the longest blooming hellebore variety. These blooms enjoy full vibrancy between February and April.

Provided it is planted in a place sheltered from strong winds, Lenten rose can continue to look good in temperatures colder than 5°F!

How To Encourage More Blooms on Hellebore

Gardening expert Jill Drago at All About Gardening notes that hellebores can struggle to bloom well due to things like poor fertilizer timing and watering issues.

Here are her top tips for giving blooms a boost:

  • Don’t skimp on the watering – Yes, hellebore are marketed as drought tolerant, but if you plant them in soil that drains well, you don’t need to worry about watering them regularly with the rest of your plants.
  • Feed them in the fall – A liquid or slow-release fertilizer in the fall will really help to initiate flowering just in time for late winter.
  • Keep it light – Hellebores fare well in partial shade, but a good amount of winter sun will help kickstart beautiful flower buds and encourage bold blooms. Perhaps a new fence, hedge, or growing tree is blocking out more light than you realize.

What To Do With Hellebores When They Finish Flowering

Hellebores typically stop flowering in late winter or early spring, so this is a good time to prune them back. As new foliage growth appears, trim back older leaves at the base.

Removing the old foliage at the end of the hellebore’s growing season will help to prevent leaf spot disease from being transported through the leaves and eventually the flowers into the following winter

Healthy-looking foliage won’t need to be trimmed away, but make sure it doesn’t grow too large to become entangled with the newer growth.

A close look at a purple hellebore flower on a sunny day.

Hellebore Growing Conditions

As a woodland plant, hellebore grows best in a partially shady spot with a few hours of direct sun or constant dappled sunlight. The shade of a nearby shrub or deciduous tree is ideal for hellebores.

Opt for a loamy, well-draining soil too, and test your soil pH. Most gardeners recommend 7.0-8.0 soil pH for hellebore.

Matt Suwak of Gardener’s Path explains that he feels that a soil pH of 5.5 is best, but hellebores can tolerate slightly high or low pH levels as long as the other soil requirements (loamy, rich, quick to drain) are checked off.

When To Plant Hellebores

Hellebores can be planted at any time of year, though it’s best to avoid very dry summer months or planting in waterlogged soil. Hellebores are normally sold in full flower, so planting them in fall or spring is best.

If the ground is still frozen, you can enjoy the plant indoors until the soil is completely free of frost in your area.

What To Do With Hellebores in Summer

Hellebore flowers remain in bloom by summer but start to see their colors fade, so keep the rest of the plant looking well groomed by removing any yellowing or dead leaves.

It’s important to maintain moist soil conditions as the weather heats up too.

As the faded flowers lose a little of their pizazz in summer, some gardeners recommend growing their hellebore in containers so they can be moved elsewhere in the yard until their blooming season starts up again.

To grow hellebore in pots, prolific gardening author and botanical judge Graham Rice at Homes&Gardens recommends using a weighty terracotta or stone pot for greater stability and well-draining potting soil.

Rice also suggests that as hellebore flower heads tend to droop downwards, you should use the flexibility of container planting to position them on a windowsill or on a low wall where the blooms can still be seen and enjoyed.

Related Questions:

Are Hellebore Toxic?

Yes. All parts of the hellebore plant are toxic to humans and mammals, causing mild skin irritation and burning when handled and symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea if the roots are ingested.

Dogs tend to avoid hellebore due to its bitter taste, but it’s important to be aware of the signs of toxicity.

Do Hellebores Have a Scent?

While hellebores do not emit a scent on their own, crushing the leaves or stem of a hellebore plant is believed to release a putrid, grassy smell.

Bizarrely, some gardeners have also likened the smell of crushed hellebore leaves to roast beef, coffee, and wet dog.

Final Thoughts

In summary, hellebore has a fairly long blooming season from late winter to early spring, and even when the plant has stopped flowering, the faded blossoms remain a charming sight throughout the summer.

To encourage blooms and keep hellebore plants looking their best, it’s important to prune back old foliage to make space for new growth and provide ideal growing conditions of partial shade, well-draining soil, and well-timed fertilizer.