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How to Grow Helleborus

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017
Helleborus makes its presence known in late winter.

Evergreen helleborus brings color to the garden in late winter, often while other plants sit dormant under the snow. A hardy perennial, helleborus is also know as the Lenten rose because of it often blooms during Lent. Helleborus is available in a large range of colors, so integrating it into your existing beds isn't difficult. Helleborus prefers partially shaded areas in the garden, allowing you to bring colorful flowers to areas where other varieties won't grow. Helleborus is usually planted from purchased transplants, as seeding and planting cuttings is difficult.

Prepare a garden bed in a partially shaded area. Afternoon shade is preferred over morning shade. Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over the bed and till it in to the top 8 inches of soil to aid drainage in the area and to add nutrients.

Dig planting holes as deep as the nursery pot the helleborus is in and slightly wider. Space the holes 18 to 24 inches apart in the bed.

Grasp the helleborus transplant around the stem near the soil surface. Pull the pot off the root ball with your other hand.

Place the helleborus into the planting hole, arranging it so it sets at the same depth in the garden that it did in its nursery pot. Fill in around the plant with soil and lightly firm it around the plant with your hands.

Water the garden bed until it feels moist to a 6-inch depth when you stick your finger into it. Continue to water as needed to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Lay a 3-inch layer of mulch around the helleborus plants. Mulch preserves soil moisture and prevents weed growth.

Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer to the helleborus bed in spring right after blooming and again at midsummer, following the application rate recommended on the fertilizer label. Work the fertilizer into the soil between the plants so that it doesn't come in direct contact with the helleborus roots, as this can damage them.


Things You Will Need

  • Compost
  • Trowel
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer


  • In areas with hot summers, helleborus can thrive in nearly full shade, but in milder areas some sun is necessary. Planting under deciduous trees provides sun to the plants in winter and spring when it is cold and shades the helleborus in summer when it is hot.


  • Helleborus has sensitive roots that do not tolerate disturbance well. Dividing the plants or trying to transplant them is likely to kill the plants.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.