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Making Your Bed For Spring

Tending to Hellebores in March

One of the first things we tackle in the garden is raking up windblown leaves that have accumulated around the crowns of the early blooming Lenten Roses (Helleborus orientalis hybrids) and removing last year’s tarnished foliage, which may harbor pesky Botrytis spores.

As you cleanup that decaying growth, you may be fortunate to discover dozens of tiny seedlings at the plant’s base (of course that’s if the Hellebore bloomed well for you last year).  These seedlings may be variable in color, especially if you’re growing a hybrid selection or have more than one variety. You can always leave them undisturbed, and a few will eventually establish in situ or you can very gently lift the delicate seedlings and transplant them into small pots using a well drained potting soil. After a few months they will have put on enough growth for transplanting to other spots in your garden.


  1. what a great tip Kathy, i am heading out to carefully remove the leaves and see what i have cooking!!! enjoy the slow opening of springtime. You know what is coming, yikes!!!!

    • Lynn, it usually starts off slow..this year especially, and then wham! (never ready for that).
      hope to see you soon.

  2. I always start by cutting back most of the leaves. I’ve done some today, March 22. Lots of buds. Seedlings still “ify” in my opinion to dig. Try to keep them covered. But getting the dead leaves out not only shows off the flowers but, I think, encourages the growth of fresh leaves.

  3. you clearly wrote, “cut back tarnished foliage”. I’m new to helleobores and am not sure about their care.
    does that mean leave the stems, not cut back the plant, but just the leaves that look “ratty”?

  4. Old epimedium foliage too. Make room for the new foliage.

  5. There seems to be a species of hellebores that blooms on the old growth. There doesn’t seem to be a way to cut off the leaves.

    • Yes, Nancy. The caulescent species, H. argutifolius, H. lividus, H. foetidus, and H. vesicarius, all bloom on last year’s stems, and cutting back off old foliage would you leave you would an awkward stem. Of course, if the foliage is that unsightly, and the flowers have suffered damage too, you may want to cut back the whole stem to encourage fresh foliage from the base.

  6. Thank you again for sharing your wisdom .


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