When to plant hellebores – and how to look after these winter-flowering plants

Find out when to plant hellebores and how to keep them blooming all through the winter

Hellebores shelter in the shade of a tree
(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

If you're wondering when to plant hellebores, the answer is, in short, now! These wonderful winter-flowering plants provide much-needed interest in winter gardens when just about everything else has stopped flowering until next spring. Hellebores come in a great variety of colours, too, from white to the deepest and darkest reds and purples. They're low-maintenance, too, provided they're given the right conditions to begin with. Find out when best to plant them and how to look after them below. 

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When to plant hellebores


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Hellebores can be planted in containers or in borders all year round, but the best time for planting them is between late autumn and early spring, which is when most varieties finish flowering. Avoid replanting them in the summer, as the plants are more vulnerable in dry weather. It's best to plant them where you want to display them as soon as you've bought them. 

Where to plant hellebores


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Most varieties of hellebores will do well either in containers or in borders, but Helleborus × sternii and Helleborus × ericsmithii grow best as container-only plants. Choose pots that are about the same size as the ones the hellebores came in, as they don't like too much space. The pots should always have drainage holes in them, and the soil should be free draining but retain moisture well. We recommend planting them in John Innes no. 2 or 3 for best results. 

When you hellebores have finished flowering in spring, you can plant them out in a spot in semi-shade or dappled shade, and they'll continue growing as perennials. Helleborus foetidus will do best in full shade.

How to look after hellebores

Hellebores don't mind a bit of wet weather, which makes them highly suitable for British winters. They are hardy, too, although it's best to choose a frost-proof pot for them just in case it gets very cold. Ideally, what they like is moist soil that isn't waterlogged and bright sun or at least bright light for 3-4 hours but shadier conditions for the rest of the day. If you're growing them in containers, you should mulch them to prevent the plants drying out when it's not raining. And if you want your hellebores to continue flowering every year, you must remember to water them during the dry summer months. 

Anna is a professional writer with many years of experience. She has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. She covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.