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Helleborus foetidus AGM

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© Christopher Whitehouse

Characteristics

Plant type

Herbaceous Perennial

Habit

Bushy

Toxicity

Ingestion may cause severe discomfort; skin irritant

Resilience

Hardiness

H7 (very hardy)

Colour

Flower

Purple and Pale Green in Winter

Foliage

Dark Green in Autumn, Spring, Summer and Winter

Fruit

Pale Green in Summer

Size

Ultimate height

0.5-1 metres

Ultimate spread

0.1-0.5 metres

Time to ultimate height

2-5 years


Preferred common name

stinking hellebore

Family

Ranunculaceae


Helleborus can be rhizomatous, herbaceous or semi-evergreen perennials forming a clump of pedate basal leaves, or evergreen with erect, leafy stems. Large, bowl-shaped flowers are borne in loose clusters in late winter or spring

H. foetidus is an evergreen perennial to 60cm with erect stems, and leaves palmately divided leaves narrow dark green leaflets. Nodding, usually purple-edged, pale green flowers to 2cm in width are borne in large open clusters from late winter

Other common names

  • barfoot
  • bearfoot
  • bear's foot
  • foetid hellebore
  • ox heel
  • setterwort
  • stinkwort

How to grow

Sunlight

  • Full sun
  • Part shade

Aspect

  • North-facing, East-facing, West-facing or South-facing
  • Sheltered

Cultivation

Thrives in neutral to alkaline soils that are moist, fertile and humus-rich. Partial shade is ideal but can tolerate full sun. Provide shelter from strong, cold winds. Mulch annually in autumn

Soil

  • Moist but well-drained
  • Alkaline or Neutral
  • Chalk, Loam or Clay

Propagation

Propagate by seed sown in pots in a cold frame as soon as seed is ripe

Suggested planting locations and garden types

City/Courtyard Gardens, Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower borders and beds, Low Maintenance, Underplanting of Roses and Shrubs or Wildflower meadow


How to care

Pruning

Remove faded or damaged foliage as the flowers appear

Pests

Hellebore aphid and snails may be a problem

Diseases

May be subject to hellebore leaf spot and hellebore black death