How to Prune Hellebores

Ah, hellebore. She is a new favorite of mine. I’ve always had an affinity for growing edibles, but just last fall I took a little foray into the world of landscaping. It all started with a giant, ugly, overgrown shrub. I was just so tired of looking at it, that finally one evening I had enough. I got the kids to bed and headed out with my pruning shears. I hacked the poor thing down to its base. And while the bed does look much better without it, it also was looking a little empty. So I went down to my favorite local garden center in search of some perennials.

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Thanks, little bumblebee.

This side of our house is super shady. In fact, I don’t think this spot sees direct sunlight at all. So I knew I’d have to be selective about what to plant here. I honestly wasn’t too excited about the list of shade-loving plants that came up on my first Google search. Until I discovered hellebores.

Hellebores do well in the shade, but they are very versatile and can handle a bit of sun as well. Their foliage is semi-evergreen, and they are some of the first flowers to bloom in early spring. The varieties I chose are hardy to -30 degrees Fahrenheit! An incredible choice for my zone 4 winters.

I planted this hellebore early last fall, and this is what it looks like in late March, right after the last of our snow had melted. I was delighted to see all of the new growth pushing through. Truly the first activity I’ve seen in my garden after the long winter. Such a welcome sight.

Really this doesn’t look too bad, and it would be fine to leave it like this a while longer. But those leaves are looking a bit tired and tattered, and to be honest I was chomping at the bit to do SOMETHING in the garden. So I decided to come in and give it a good prune, as well as top dress with fresh compost.

Can you handle those sweet little buds pushing through? Guys, spring really is here at last.

Pruning a hellebore is pretty straight forward. As soon as you see that beautiful, pink new growth pushing up in the spring, you are free to break out your shears. Here is a good pair of pruners if you’re on a budget, and if you’d like to splurge a bit more I’d recommend these. Simply follow the old growth back to the base and trim it off, being careful not to harm the new buds. That’s really all there is to it.

This one has one new leaf that has just opened. She was looking fresh and beautiful so I left her alone.

Here’s what she looks like after pruning and with a fresh dressing of compost.

So fresh. So lovely. Can’t wait for those blooms to emerge. I’ll be sure to share progress on these lovely ladies over on instagram. You can find me @vine.and.harvest to follow along as they grow.

Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you’re inspired to get out and prune your hellebores or to add some of these beauties to your collection if you haven’t already!

Until next time,



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