© RHS/Joanna Kossak



Botanical name: Helleborus

Common name: hellebore

Hellebores are classic plants for winter interest, with elegant, nodding blooms in shades of green, white, pink or ruby. These perennials have a long flowering period, lasting well into spring. Mainly evergreen with handsome leaves, they thrive in shadier spots.


Nodding flowers in shades of green, white, pink or plum, or even blackish–purple, are set among clumps of leathery, evergreen leaves. Most hellebores are compact, 30–45cm (12–18in) tall, but bolder types, such as Helleborus argutifolius and H. foetidus, can grow to 90cm (3ft).


Hellebores grow best in fertile, evenly moist soil, although they should be fine in most soil types. While they prefer light shade, they’ll often cope in a sunnier spot as long as the soil doesn’t get too dry. The stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) is happy in deep shade. 


Hellebores dislike extremes – very wet or very dry soil is unsuitable, as is full sun, which can scorch the leaves in summer. The popular Oriental hybrids (Helleborus × hybridus) are hardy, but H. thibetanus, H. lividus and H. niger are easily damaged by winter cold and wet.

Did you know?

Although often known as Christmas or Lenten roses, because they flower from late winter into spring, hellebores aren’t related to roses. Instead they belong to the buttercup family.

Growing guide

Browse hellebores

Hellebores with white flowers

Hellebores with pink and yellow flowers

Hellebores with dark flower shades

Hellebores with marbled or bold leaves

Hellebores we recommend

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Useful advice

Hellebore aphid

Hellebore aphid

Hellebore black death

Hellebore black death

Hellebore leaf miner

Hellebore leaf miner

Hellebore leaf spot

Hellebore leaf spot

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