Time to Trim Hellebores

A few snip-snips now will keep them looking good.

Deep Purple Lenten Rose
Photo: Getty Images

These are high times for those of us lucky enough to be able to grow hellebores. The most popular kind, Lenten rose ( Helleborus hybridus ) is busy decorating the garden with stunning winter flowers in colors of burgundy, pink, white, purple, nearly black, bright green, and yellow. Blooms may single, semi-double, or fully double and last for weeks in the cool weather. They need little care beyond light shade and well-drained soil, but there's one more thing you should do now to augment their beauty and health. Trim.

Hellebores are unusual perennials in that they produce flowers and leathery, evergreen leaves on separate stems. Sometimes last year's foliage obscures the new blossoms. Other times the old foliage looks yellow, worn, and ragged due to the ravages of weather. Still other times black fungal spots mar the foliage and can spread to other plants if you don't act. In all of these cases, the solution is the same. Trim off the problem leaves.

Throw old, ragged leaves in the compost. Throw diseased foliage in the trash. Either action won't hurt your plants a bit. They'll soon send up fresh, new leaves and look much better than before.

Winter Flowers: Lenten Roses
Ralph Anderson

Don't fret if you accidentally cut a flower stem. Hellebores make splendid cut flowers. Just stick the cut stem in water. All of the flower buds will open and you'll enjoy color for weeks.

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