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HELLEBORUS foetidus

Image of Helleborus foetidus

James Burghardt

Family

Ranunculaceae

Botanical Name

HELLEBORUS foetidus

Plant Common Name

Foetid Hellebore, Stinking Hellebore

General Description

The foetid hellebore is an attractive winter blooming perennial that produces many beautiful bright green flowers. The delightful blooms of this unfortunately named plant are not particularly stinky, although other parts of the plant have a nasty smell when crushed. Native to western and central Europe, this hardy plant adds a bright touch to the garden when not much else is green.

The evergreen foliage of foetid hellebore is attractive in its own right. The leaves are deeply divided with long lance-shaped fingers. They are usually dark green with coarse teeth along the edges. The long-lasting cup- or bell-shaped, greenish purple flowers bloom from midwinter to spring and become greener as the season progresses. The flowers are often visited by bees and ants which aid in pollination and seed distribution.

Grow this hellebore in a spot with full to dappled sun and rich, fertile, alkaline soil. Plant it in groups under trees or in beds where you can enjoy its winter blooms. Choose the site carefully since mature hellebores tend to transplant poorly. Propagate by seed or division in spring or fall. Hellebores make delightful, long-lasting cut flowers.

There are potential health concerns regarding this hellebore. For more information visit http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Hellefo.htm

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    24"-32" / 61.0cm - 81.3cm

  • Width

    18"-24" / 45.7cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Europe

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Purple, Yellow Green, Light Green

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes