Hellebore is the common name for several species of plants in the Helleborus genus of the Ranunculaceae family. Hellebore has thick, evergreen foliage, and showy flowers known to bloom early in the year, often even in winter.


In Southern California, hellebore make for eye catching planters when planted in groupings. They tend to do better in lightly shaded areas than many other blooming plants struggle in.



Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Cinnamon Snow’


There are many different types of Hellebore cultivars, however most all have a mature height of 1 to 2 feet tall with a similar width. These small to medium shrubs are an excellent addition to a garden of any size.


Landscape Planting – Hellebore basics 


Botanical Name: Helleborus spp.

Common Name: Hellebore, Lenten rose, Christmas rose

Type: Evergreen, herbaceous, perennial

Family: Ranunculaceae

Native Range: Middle East

Zone: 3 to 9 (they tend to prefer slightly cooler, wetter climates than ours here in Southern California, but will still grow well in our region once they are established)

Height: 1 to 2 feet

Spread: 1 to 2 feet

Bloom Time: Spring

Bloom Description: White, yellow, purple, pink

Sun: Shade in summer and full to partial sun in winter

Water: Moist but well-draining

Maintenance: Low

Suggested Use: Groupings, informal planters

Flower: Showy – their beautiful flowers are their prized feature



A cluster of Hellebores, Helleborus × hybridus ‘Double Ellen White’


For landscape planting, hellebore tend to grow well in slightly shaded areas. Our landscape designers at Creative Concepts Landscape will be happy to look over your property and determine areas that are optimal for these types of plants. Creative Concepts Landscape can also build shade structures, such as pergolas and arbors.


In the perfect world, these plants like full sun in the winter and partial shade in the summer.  Our designers can take a look at your property and see if these needs can be met. We create a design plan for all of our consultations to determine what plants and needs match each individual property. Ideally, hellebores are planted underneath a deciduous tree, where they are protected by the leaf growth in summer and receive extra sun during the winter while the tree’s leaves are absent. Again, Creative Concepts Landscape will help to determine the best location on your property, or create the conditions to promote a healthy, beautiful garden.


Hellebores need medium moisture levels. These plants will need irrigation systems or regular hand watering. Creative Concepts Landscape has installed many irrigation systems (drip and sprinkler), and we would be happy to take a look at your property to come up with a design that could meet hellebores’ needs. Once these plants are established (usually around one year after planting) the irrigation can be reduced.


These plants also prefer well-draining soils. Most of the natural soil in Southern California is somewhat sandy, well-draining soil.



The light green leaves of Hellebores


Pruning & Maintenance 


Hellebores are fairly low in maintenance needs. In many cases, providing supplemental water for these plants is the highest maintenance requirement. Creative Concepts Landscape has been installing irrigation systems for over twenty years. We will be happy to schedule a consultation and come up with an irrigation system plan and install it. Creative Concepts landscape also repairs and refurbishes existing irrigation systems, so they are in optimal, efficient condition.


Outside of maintaining an irrigation system for Hellebores, the plants require some cleanup of dried leaves. If the foliage is somewhat worn or damaged by the end of the year, Hellebores can be cut back to the basal growth (the base of the plant) in late winter or early spring before flowering.


If most of the plant’s stems look healthy come late winter, then they should be left as is. If there are a few tattered stems throughout the plant, they can be pruned at their base while the healthy stems are left in place.


Creative Concepts Landscape has options for maintenance schedules. Many of our clients have us maintain their property weekly or two times a month, however we also offer periodic cleanups. These cleanups range from four times a year, twice a year, and sometimes once a year. We will be happy to talk with you and determine a maintenance/cleanup schedule that fits your property needs.


There are many cultivars of hellebores. This one is Helleborus orientalis


For landscape planting, hellebores tend to grow best in organically rich soils. Creative Concepts Landscape regularly amends soil to increase its organic and nutrient levels. Our soil in Southern California often needs extra organic/nutrient material to support the plants, however the soil is also usually naturally alkaline, which hellebores prefer.


Landscape Uses 


Creative Concepts Landscape creates a landscape plan and design for your specific property characteristics along with your wants. Our highly experienced designers will be able to see what plant types and layout will complement your landscape’s existing features to come up with a planting design plan.


Hellebores occasionally will need to be cleaned of dried leaves, however, overall, they do not require a lot of maintenance


Hellebores are often grouped together to form a group of plants in landscape planters. They can also be planted in a more scattered configuration, as accent planting.



Thank you for joining us again in this week’s horticultural adventures. Please come back next Wednesday for out next blog post, and as always, contact us for all your landscape needs!


By Daniel Williams

Client Liaison for Creative Concepts Landscape