Unjustly named Stinking Hellebore, award-winning Helleborus foetidus provides gardeners with some of the greatest pleasures in winter. This evergreen perennial features large, open and long-lasting clusters of cheerful chartreuse, bell-shaped flowers, 1 in. wide (2 cm), edged with dark red. Blooming heavily for weeks from late winter to mid spring, these nodding beauties rise on sturdy, erect stems above a handsome foliage of leathery, narrow, fan-like (palmately divided), dark green leaves. Flowers and bruised foliage are unpleasantly aromatic, releasing a moderately rank, grassy smell - thus the common name. Drought-tolerant, Helleborus foetidus is also one of the finest perennials for dry shade.
- Winner of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society for its noteworthy qualities.
- Grows slowly in a clump, up to 1-2 ft. tall (30-60 cm) and 12-18 in. wide (30-45 cm). Although this perennial is usually not long lived (4-5 years), it will often self-seed in satisfactory growing conditions and keep its cool presence in the garden.
- Performs best in part shade, in rich, humusy, moist, alkaline, well-drained soils. Full sun is tolerated. Hellebores are very tolerant and will grow well in most soils as long as the ground is not extremely dry or stagnantly waterlogged. Select a sheltered site to protect them from cold winter winds. Mulch annually in fall.
- Drought tolerant once established, it is deer resistant.
- Easy to grow, this plant is a welcomed addition to shady borders, containers, under trees or large shrubs, woodland gardens or naturalized areas. Plant in groups for best visual impact.
- Watch for snails and aphids or hellebore leaf spot.
- Remove faded or damaged foliage as the flowers appear
- Propagate by seed in pots in a cold frame as soon as seed is ripe.
- Ingestion may cause severe discomfort; skin irritant.