Cutting back Hellebores

As we head towards Christmas, one of my last jobs I like to do in the garden is remove the leaves on helleborus orientalis and H. x hybridus type hybrids. These are the hellebores that shoot up the flower buds from the base of the plant while others like H.niger, H.argufolius, H x sternii etc all bear the flowers on the leave stems and these should be cut back when they have finished flowering. Helleborus orientalis are also know as Christmas roses as they start flowering roundabout Christmas time and carry on to March. Cutting back the Hellebores helps to show the flowers off much better then they bloom, on some forms, the flowers can be hidden from view by the leaves and again it makes them visible. Another advantage of pruning them back now is removing the old leaves reduces the chances of the new foliage getting hellebore leaf spot (Microsphaeropsis hellebori).

Here’s my step by step guide

1)A group of Hellebores ready to cut back

2) pull back the leaves to show the crown of the plant

3) the red circled bits are the flower buds coming up, these are the ones you want to avoid cutting with the secateurs.

4) now carefully start cutting down the stems as close to the ground as you can

5) I find it best to clear any old stems and leaves out from the crown of the plant as I am cutting back as it makes it clearer to see what I am cutting back and avoiding the buds

6) the finished clump!

6) and in flower!

It’s a nice and easy job to do and one perfect for this weekend!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Important information, but I HATE that job! I normally do not mind aggressive pruning and grooming, but I happen to be allergic to caustic sap, and I really dislike gloves. I must do this quickly, or get some other sucker to do it. I can do quite a bit, but I do not want to do too much, and them come back inside where it is warm. I suppose there are ways of getting around it, like washing while still cool, but still, it getting someone else to do it easiest for me.

    1. thomashort says:

      Like the idea of getting some other sucker to do it, is it just Hellebores that cause the problem? One of my nice little just before Christmas jobs

      1. tonytomeo says:

        I do not think that everyone reacts to it the same way. I can also be allergic to primrose and grevillea, but not all the time. Many of my colleagues are not allergic to poison oak, but some people are seriously allergic to it.

  2. Thank you for this useful guide!

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