Shade Loving Hellebores the Easy Care Winter Flower

 winter flower garden hellebores about the garden magazine

Gardeners in cooler climates around Australia are in for a treat this winter with new release hellebores that will knock your socks off. More easy-care and rewarding to grow than ever before, these elegant perennials will give any neglected, shady area a dramatic and graceful facelift.

Easy to grow, frost hardy and dry tolerant once established, hellebores are perfect for pots and small, shady courtyards. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Christmas Rose’ in the northern hemisphere, hellebores will flower beautifully in the depths of winter when little else is in flower. Not at all troubled by frost or even snow (although they will flower later in very cold regions), hellebores love the cold! They are also tolerant of summer heat, as long as it is not humid. Especially fond of cool and mountain areas, hellebores are perfect for Victoria and Tasmania, are well-suited to coastal New South Wales as far north as Sydney and cool, inland areas as far north as Warwick, Toowoomba and Kingaroy in Queensland. South Australians can grow hellebores in the temperate range between Mt. Gambier and Adelaide.

Where to plant

Hellebores are stunning in mass plantings and are perfect in ‘difficult’ sites such as under tree canopies or low-light areas between buildings. They usually grow best in a position with shade for most of the day. In southern climates where the sun is not as harsh, hellebores can tolerate — and benefit from — more sun. A position in the shade of a deciduous tree can be ideal, especially in cooler regions, as it will let in sun in winter.

Planting hellebores

Hellebores love just about any soil that is moist and free-draining, although they tend to dislike very sandy soils. Digging plenty of 5IN1™ Organic Fertiliser into the soil before planting will improve the structure, fertility and water-holding capacity of the soil. Build up garden beds if drainage is poor or dig in plenty of Searles Premium Garden Soil Mix for best results.

winter hellebores shade loving winter flower garden about the garden magazineHellebores in pots

Hellebores grow well in pots. For a small plant, they have quite a vigorous, rhizomous root system and will need to be repotted twice a year, eventually into large tubs. Plant them into Searles Platinum Potting Mix for a stunning display.


Like other members of the Ranunculaceae family, hellebores like plenty of fertiliser and winter is the start of their growing season. With this in mind, give them a feed with Searles Kickalong Fruit & Flower Plant Food at the end of autumn or early winter. If the soil tends to be acidic, they also can benefit from an occasional application of Searles Garden Lime.


In regions with hot summers, give hellebores a good mulching in spring before the heat arrives. While plants are establishing, give them a regular watering during dry or hot weather.

Pruning & deadheading

Pruning hellebores — especially of the new varieties — is generally not necessary unless you’d like to do an occasional tidy up of the old flower stems and leaves. Hellebores will finish flowering in mid spring and can naturalise in your garden in ideal conditions. If you don’t want them dropping seed, remove the flower heads before the seeds fall.

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