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Herbaceous Perennial

Helleborus foetidus
  • RHS AGM
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

stinking hellebore

H. foetidus is an evergreen perennial to 60cm with erect stems, and leaves palmately divided leaves narrow dark green leaflets. Nodding, usually purple-edged, pale green flowers to 2cm in width are borne in large open clusters from late winter

Other common names
barfoot
bearfoot
see morebear's foot
foetid hellebore
ox heel
setterwort
stinkwort

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Size
Ultimate height
0.5–1 metres
Time to ultimate height
2–5 years
Ultimate spread
0.1–0.5 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Moisture
Moist but well–drained
pH
Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green
Summer Green Green
Autumn Green
Winter Green Purple Green
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

South–facing or North–facing or West–facing or East–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Hardiness
H7
Botanical details
Family
Ranunculaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Evergreen
Habit
Bushy
Potentially harmful
Ingestion may cause severe discomfort, skin irritant. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling
Genus

Helleborus can be rhizomatous, herbaceous or semi-evergreen perennials forming a clump of pedate basal leaves, or evergreen with erect, leafy stems. Large, bowl-shaped flowers are borne in loose clusters in late winter or spring

Name status

Correct

Plant range
W & S Europe

How to grow

Cultivation

Thrives in neutral to alkaline soils that are moist, fertile and humus-rich. Partial shade is ideal but can tolerate full sun. Provide shelter from strong, cold winds. Mulch annually in autumn

Propagation

Propagate by seed sown in pots in a cold frame as soon as seed is ripe

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Wildflower meadow
  • City and courtyard gardens
  • Low Maintenance
  • Underplanting of roses and shrubs
  • Flower borders and beds
Pruning

Remove faded or damaged foliage as the flowers appear

Pests

Hellebore aphid and snails may be a problem

Diseases

May be subject to hellebore leaf spot and hellebore black death

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