WHEN SHOULD HELLEBORES BE CUT BACK?

When should Hellebores be cut back?

Like me, you may have a love-hate relationship with Hellebores. The blooms are detailed and stunning, although not in every cultivar. The blooms generally hang face down, although not in every cultivar. And they spend most of the year with untidy foliage, although not in every cultivar. That being said there are cultivars I do enjoy but even so they will still require maintenance to get the best out of them and that means cutting back their knackered foliage. So when should Hellebores be cut back?

When should Hellebores be cut back?
If you are looking at what is best for the plant then you will be removing any leaves that have entirely died back, meaning that any nutrients and carbohydrates from the old leaves has been drawn back into the plant proper to help power new foliage and blooms.

However if you are looking at what will look best in your garden then remove from the base any large collapsed foliage as this will keep your specimens tidy.

That being said, the reason for this question is usually in relation to what will look best during the production of the plants spring blooms. In this case, the old leaves will need to be cut either prior to the emergence of the new spring growth, or just as this new growth breaks above ground. So this will be from late winter to early spring depending on the cultivar. For the south of England this is usually done around November to December. If you leave it until the new growth is clearly noticeable then you will be at risk of cutting back not only new foliage but even the new emerging flower stalks due to the confusion of stalks at the base.

There is a side benefit to removing the old leaves which is this. The thick untidy growth of Hellboures can often be a favourite haunt of snails and slugs, furthermore the leaves themselves are often targeted by slugs and snails.

For related articles click onto the following links:
GARDENERS WORLD HELLEBORES
HELLEBORUS 'Penny's Pink'
HELLEBORES AND HAND POLLINATION
HOW TO GROW HELLEBORES FROM SEED
HOW TO PROPAGATE HELLEBORES
PESTS AND DISEASES OF HELLEBORES
STORIES, MYTHS, LEGENDS AND THE FOLKLORE OF HELLEBORE
THE BLACK HELLEBORE
THE CHRISTMAS ROSE - Helleborus niger

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