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Helleborus foetidus (Stinking Hellebore)

Stinking Hellebore, Barfoot, Bearfoot, Bear's Foot, Foetid Hellebore, Ox Heel, Setterwort, Stinkwort

AGM Award
Helleborus Foetidus,Stinking Hellebore, Barfoot, Bearfoot, Bear's Foot, Foetid Hellebore, Ox Heel, Setterwort, Stinkwort, white flowers, shade plants

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 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 the 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 the 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 and skin irritant. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling.
  • Toxic to dogs, toxic to cats, toxic to horses, toxic to humans.
  • Native to the mountainous regions of Central and Southern Europe, Greece, and Asia Minor.

How to Plant, Grow and Care for Hellebore


Learn how to grow lush, healthy, and gorgeous Hellebores

Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 9
Heat Zones 6 - 9
Climate Zones 2, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Ranunculaceae
Genus Helleborus
Common names lenten Rose, Hellebore, Bearfoot, Christmas Rose
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid)
Winter
Height 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 18" (50cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Plant of Merit, Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants United Kingdom
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Helleborus Molly’s White (Hellebore)
Helleborus x nigercors ‘Honeyhill Joy’ (Hellebore)
Helleborus x ballardiae ‘HGC Merlin’ (Hellebore)
Helleborus ‘Dark and Handsome’ (Hellebore)
Helleborus ‘Wedding Crasher’ (Hellebore)
Helleborus ‘Shotgun Wedding’ (Hellebore)

Recommended Companion Plants

Trillium chloropetalum (Giant Wake Robin)
Euphorbia polychroma (Cushion Spurge)
Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop)
Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Blue Giant’ (Glory of the Snow)
Pulmonaria ‘Shrimps on the Barbie’ (Lungwort)
Hosta (Plantain Lily)

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 9
Heat Zones 6 - 9
Climate Zones 2, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Ranunculaceae
Genus Helleborus
Common names lenten Rose, Hellebore, Bearfoot, Christmas Rose
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid)
Winter
Height 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 18" (50cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Plant of Merit, Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants United Kingdom
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Helleborus (Hellebore)
Not sure which Helleborus (Hellebore) to pick?
Compare Now

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