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Hellebore Foliage - Do you cut this away to allow emerging flower buds? Or to keep for protection

I've always kept the foliage on until the the flowering stems about 3-4" high, although I would prefer if the foliage wasn't there at all as it would allow more light to the emerging spring bulbs coming through. What's the consensus here? 


  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 12,382
    The accepted wisdom is to cut off the hellebore leaves just as the flower buds appear to (a) show off the flowers better and (b) to stop any disease of the leaves that could damage the leaves. Apparently though according to a previous post,  you don't do this for Hellebore Niger (the white Christmas rose) as they don't like it.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • FireFire Posts: 18,947
    It does depend on the type of hellebore you have. There are very many types.
  • Mainly I have Harvington hybrids. The leaves are splayed out, extending their "coverage" onto other bulbs/perennials in the vicinity. Shall I cut them down now then? 
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,573
    If they are flat on the floor I cut them off.
  • FireFire Posts: 18,947
    With my Anna's Red (Rodney Davey Marbled Group), I cut the leaves off when the seems as though they are dying back, getting brown and very tatty.

  • I cut the old leaves off all of my Hellebores three weeks ago.  Initially, they looked great, with the flowers much more visible - however, following the last few days of cold weather, they are looking distinctly sorry for themselves!  I'm hoping that they will perk up when the weather does - if not, I'll leave the leaves on for longer next year.
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    It's a bit of a gamble. I wasn't able to get round to cutting back any leaves because of driving rain and wind, then the cold came. The flowers have been sheltered by the leaves and don't look too bad at all but it has been so bitter there would have been damage if they were exposed. Luck, not judgement.
  • FireFire Posts: 18,947
    edited February 2021
    @justflowers  Some hellebores flop and freeze in frost. My holly-leaves ones have been upright all the way, the Anna's Red flopped right over, but should recover this week. It seems odd to me that winter plants should react (visibly, at least) to cold weather.
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    I suppose that the liquid in the cells freezes but they have evolved to cope with it and recover, unlike less hardy plants. Perhaps it is the equivalent of summer plants that droop in drought but bounce back when the rain comes. Hirses for courses.
  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 14,944
    If the leaves are not infected, and you can see the flowers easily, it is better not to cut the leaves off, as obviously you get stronger plants.
    certain Hellebores, eg argutifolius should never have the leaves cut off.
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