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Cutting back Hellebore leaves

Hi.  I have a potted Hellebore which is starting to come into flower, which I'm very cheered to see!  I've read here and there about trimming back 'old leaves'; my Hellebore has leaves but they seem to be nice and green with no sign of brown marks, etc.  Should I trim them back anyway or are they only to be trimmed if the leaves turn brown, please?  Many thanks in advance.  :)



  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,823
    Usually, by this time of year, the old leaves are going brown, looking scruffy and can also hold spores that can damage new foliage so people cut them off to enhance the look of the plant, give more light and space to see the flowers and allow new foliage to come thru unhindered.

    If your old foliage is looking healthy, leave it on as long as you can until you see the new shoots coming thru.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • It depends on the type of hellebore ... this should help


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,238
    Agree with Dove - you need to identify which type of hellebore it is. You only cut back scruffy leaves on the Orientalis hellebores in early winter. Nigers and others are left alone.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,348
    I never remove foliage from nigers. Other types may need old or damaged leaves removed at various times over winter to leave emerging buds/flowers clear.

    My nigers are all looking good just now - flowering, or about to flower.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Hi @Obelixx; many thanks for your reply.  My leaves seem nice and healthy at the moment and the emerging flowers seem unhindered, so I think I'll leave alone.  I'll keep a close eye on the leaves though.  Thanks again.  :)
  • Hi @Dovefromabove; thanks for getting back to me and also for sharing the link.  I'm not quite sure what type of Hellebore I have, so I think to err on the side of caution I'll only cut the leaves if they're looking unhealthy.  Thanks again.  :)
  • Hi @Topbird; many thanks for your reply.  I'm not 100% sure which kind of Hellebore I have (other than it's white!) and the leaves look ok for now, so I'll be cautious and leave them alone unless they look very tatty.  Thanks again.  :) 
  • Hi @Fairygirl; many thanks for your reply.  I'm going to leave the leaves alone I think as they look pretty good and aren't hindering the growth of emerging flowers at the moment.  I'm glad to hear yours are coming into flower too; it's such a boost at this time of year!  Nature is wonderful and I'm thankful to Hellebores for being one of those brave enough to emerge now!  Thanks again.  :) 
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,238
    Thanks for taking the time to reply Linzi - not everybody does🙂

    Definitely best to err on the side of caution...

    If it's a near pure white hellebore I'd hazard a guess it's a hellebore niger - one you don't normally cut back.

    The hellebore orientalis (which can be cut back) tend to be shades of pink and purple, sometimes cream, although I have one which is nearly white.

    I think I'm correct  in saying that nigers also have smaller leaves than orientalis.

    If you'd like to know what you have take some photos of the whole plant, the leaves, and the flowers (when they open) and post them on here and we'll see if we can ID it for you.

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Hi again @Topbird; Thank you, I always try and reply; if someone has taken the time to reply to my query I think it only proper to thank them!  I have the Hellebore plant label in my shed but it's so wet at the moment I don't want to venture out there!  My Hellebore is pure white (but turns pink once it's fading) but I shan't cut anything back just in case.  I will dig out the plant label though (once it stops raining!).  Many thanks for your helpful reply and Merry Christmas to you and yours.  :) 
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