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Do Hellebores Die Back In Summer?

Hellebores in full bloom from late winter to early spring are a sight to behold. Their lush foliage and vibrant flowers make them a gardener’s favorite. Maybe you’re wondering whether their beauty will last once summer arrives. Will they wither away and leave you with an unsightly garden patch? We’ve researched for you. 

Hellebores are evergreen perennials and do not necessarily die back in the summer. They remain dormant during the hot days until the perfect blooming conditions return.

Once properly situated, most hellebores can thrive in a wide range of environments, although they are still susceptible to intense summer heat. Successfully growing hellebores may depend on your location and the variety. 

Generally, hellebores require very little upkeep, but just like with any other plant, choosing the right variety, learning how to care for them properly, and understanding their needs guarantee that you will enjoy your plants longer. We gathered more information about this classic perennial. Continue reading to discover more about them! 

Choosing Your Hellebore

Hellebores come in over 20 different varieties and many subspecies. Some are easy to grow, while others can be challenging. Their bloom time depends on the climate and the kind of hellebore you choose. We listed some of the most popular hellebores and information on how to best cultivate them.

mixed colour hellebore flower heads floating on the garden, Do Hellebores Die Back In Summer?

Helleborus Niger or Christmas Rose 

It's no accident that these flowers are associated with the holiday season since they bloom from Christmas until early spring. Despite its widespread popularity, growing this type of hellebore may be challenging because of its need for well-drained soil. This type also needs a lot of shady conditions to thrive.

Helleborus Orientalis or Lenten Rose 

The Lenten rose typically blooms in late winter up to spring. They have similar needs as the Christmas rose but can survive in warmer winter temperatures. Additionally, they need consistent watering. 

Helleborus Foetidus

This kind, often called Bear's-Foot hellebore or stinky hellebore begins to bloom slowly in the early winter and lasts for approximately three months. This type of hellebore needs very little irrigation. When crushed, the leaves give off an unpleasant smell, hence the name. 

When Should Hellebores Be Planted?

You can plant hellebores at any time of the year as long as the soil is not frozen. However, experts recommend avoiding the dry months of summer. Your hellebores will grow best when it’s chilly outside. They might start blooming in January and keep going strong through March.

Hellebores have a good chance of overwintering successfully and keeping their green leaves in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 9.  You can learn more about which plants can thrive in certain locations here: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map 

purple hellebore flower garden beautiful

Where Should Hellebores Be Planted?

Pick spots with plenty of cover from the sun. Hellebores can tolerate the sun but prefer shade, especially at midday.  Some hellebore enthusiasts suggest planting them under a deciduous tree, where they will get enough sunlight during the winter when the tree's leaves are bare but will be shielded from the sun in April. 

Hellebores prefer fertile and freely-draining soil. Put them somewhere moist but not wet. You can also grow them in containers, but keeping them there for a long time is not advisable. Most hellebores do not like being moved around too much. We have provided a guide to help you know when to transplant them best.

How Does It Take Hellebores To Mature?

Hellebores are typically slow growers. It usually takes them up to 18 months to reach their full maturity. Plants grown from seed usually take three years to mature. If you want to plant some hellebores, you can do it in spring or autumn. It may take two growing seasons for some plants to mature and produce flowers. 

The roots of new hellebore plants require around an inch of water every week in their first season. After they get established, you need to water them only when it's scorched outside.

macro shot pink hellebore bloom close up

What to do With Hellebores When They Finish Flowering?

Cut back any foliage that has become ragged or discolored as a result of being beaten up by pests or subjected to harsh weather. Foliar diseases from one growing season can't make their way into the next if you do this. Watch out for leaves that turn yellow or brownish.

Why Is My Hellebore Flowering In Summer?

There's a chance that your hellebores are prematurely flowering because the nursery forced them to bloom in previous years. Chances are they still need to revert to their regular blooming schedule.

How Do You Take Care Of Hellebores In The Summer?

hellebore flowers blooming february white tip petals

Hellebore plants don't generally need much care, even on hot days, but here are things you can do to boost their growth in summer.

  • Maintain moisture in the soil by watering your hellebores during dry seasons, but don't overdo it, or you risk drowning the plants. 
  • Hellebores don’t do much growing in the summertime, but it is also important to prune them. 
  • While replanting your hellebores in the summer is tempting, high temperatures may be detrimental to their growth. If you really plan on transplanting or dividing them, you should do it in the last days of summer since the temperature will drop considerably in the coming weeks.

More Tips for Your Hellebores 

  • Spread a thick layer of mulch around their base to protect your hellebores from the cold during winter. Dried leaves will help keep them insulated. 
  • Hellebores thrive on soil that is slightly acidic to neutral. If your soil is overly acidic, consider adding lime to it.
  • Give your hellebores a lot of fertilizer during the chilly season when growth is at its peak. 
  • Hellebore blossoms have a characteristic downward-facing nod. If you want the finest view, some recommend placing them on a hill or slope in your yard.

Conclusion

mixed color hellebore flower heads floating on the garden

Hellebores are beautiful additions to any garden since their blossoms come in a wide range of colors, from cream to pink to plum and even black. They stand out during the winter when everything else in your garden is dull and asleep. Plus, you can ignore them almost entirely, even in summer when they are dormant, and they would bounce back nicely come spring.