Helleborus foetidus
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Helleborus foetidus

Helleborus foetidus

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Quick Facts
Common Name: Bear's-foot Hellebore
Hardiness Zone: 6-7S/10W Exposure: Part Shade to Shade
Blooms In: Apr-May
Mature Height: 18-24" Spacing: 18-24"
Read our Growing Guide Ships as: ONE QUART POT
Deer Resistance: Yes
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Product Details

Product Details

This species has by far the most interesting and attractive foliage of the genus and goes by the common name Bear's Foot Hellebore. The leathery, dark green leaves are evergreen except in severe winters and are divided into 7–10, serrated fingers arranged in the shape of a fan. They offer a compelling contrast with Hostas and Ferns. The clusters of 1″ bell-shaped blooms, which appear on 18–24″ stems, are pale green with a maroon rim. They're not in a league with the flowers of Delphiniums or Clematis, but we're grateful for color of any kind so early in spring. For the serious shade gardener, this plant is a must. It will self sow and, like other Hellebores, is deer resistant.

These aristocrats of the woodland garden are native to Europe and western Asia. The genus Helleborus contains about 20 species of perennials that bloom in early winter in mild climates and in late winter or early spring where the soil freezes hard, which makes them either the last or the first flowers in the garden. They require a moist but well-drained site with some shade. Take care to amend the soil with plenty of organic matter, such as well-aged leaf mold and compost. You'll be rewarded with long-lived, deer- and vole-resistant plants that will spread nicely on their own.

For more information on growing Helleborus, click Growing Guide.




The size of the plants we ship has been selected to reduce the shock of transplanting. For some, this means a large, bareroot crown. Others cannot travel bareroot or transplant best if grown in containers. We ship these perennials and annuals in 1 pint pots, except as noted. We must point out that many perennials will not bloom the first year after planting, but will the following year, amply rewarding your patience. We ship bulbs as dormant, bare bulbs, sometimes with some wood shavings or moss. Shrubs, Roses, vines, and other woody plants may be shipped bareroot or in pots. The size of the pot is noted in the quick facts for each item.


We ship our bulbs and plants at the right time for planting in your area, except as noted, with orders dispatched on a first-come, first-served basis by climate zone. We also ship a wide range of containers and planters, tools, supplies, fertilizers, garden wear, garden decor items, as well as indoor decorations like wreaths and dried bouquets when available. Estimated dates for shipping are indicated in the green Shipping Details box for each item. Please supply a street address for delivery. Kindly contact us with two weeks notice, if you'll be away at the expected time of delivery.


We guarantee to ship plants that are in prime condition for growing. If your order is damaged or fails to meet your expectations, we will cheerfully replace or refund it. Please contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-503-9624 or email us at [email protected]. Please include your order number or customer number when contacting us.



Average Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (5 Reviews) Write a Review

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fantastic plant

Landscaper put this under our cedar trees. Part shade with some sun. It starts to bloom in November and keeps bloom till June. The beautiful lime green with magenta edge is really set off with the dark green foliage. I just cut the blooms off in June I don't have to cut back the fronds. It took me a long time to find the name of this plant as I cannot find at the nurseries here in Western WA. One of my very favorites and everyone else does not have so makes it special

1 of 1 people found this review helpful. Do you? yes no

Plant didn't make it

Planted this in the summer 2012, which was a very dry year. Plant just died that same year. White Flower CS thought I had just overwatered it. I probably did. Three stars indicate my ambivalence: rating could have been lower or higher. Plant appeared to be healthy when I received it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful. Do you? yes no  Certified buyer

Superb plant

The plant works well in dry shade that competes with tree roots. It is a harbinger of spring.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful. Do you? yes no

Best plant in my garden.

All-round excellent plant.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful. Do you? yes no


The only care I have to give this plant is to trim the flower stalk each year, as the foliage never seems to die back (in zone 6) or need to be cleaned up! I have had it in my shade garden for 4 years and it has been bushy and pretty since year 1. Not showy but I can count on it!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful. Do you? yes no

Growing guide

Growing guide
Print Grow Guide

Latin Name Pronunciation: hel-eh-bor'us 

These evergreen plants bring an architectural quality to the shady garden. Most bloom in early winter in mild climates and in late winter or very early spring where the ground freezes hard. Resistant to both deer and voles, they are long-lived and provide exquisite blooms at a time when flowers are a scarce delight.


  • Hellebores are at their best in evenly moist well-drained soil in partial shade.
  • Water well during extended dry periods; they are drought-tolerant once established.

Fertilizer/Soil and pH

  • Hellebores grow best in soil enriched with copious amounts of organic matter.
  • The hybrids known as Helleborus x hybridus (previously called Helleborus orientalis) prefer a soil pH close to neutral and even alkaline; add lime if your soil is extremely acid.
  • The Christmas Rose (H. niger) may be slow to become established; to help it along, try a dose of magnesium in the form of Epsom salts or dolomitic limestone sprinkled around the plants.
  • Plants will benefit from a light application of granular, balanced fertilizer in early spring.


Watch for slug or snail damage, and control with baits or diatomaceous earth.

Cutting Flowers

To enjoy the blossoms indoors, you can simply cut off the flowers and float them in a shallow bowl of water. To use them in bouquets, cut the stems of older blooms that have dropped their stamens (tiny, stalk-like filaments in the center of the blooms) and started to produce small round seed pods.


Hellebores are lovely with other denizens of light shade such as:

  • Ferns
  • Tiarella
  • Campanula
  • Alchemilla
  • Hosta
  • Phlox divaricata
  • Pulmonaria

They truly enliven woodland gardens. The larger, more exuberantly colored varieties or double forms are a great addition to the shady border.


  • Although evergreen, the foliage often looks tattered in early spring. Prune back dead and disfigured foliage before new growth appears.
  • Remove old flower stems when they decline, cutting back to basal foliage, but take care not to remove the stems of Bear’s-foot Hellebore (H. foetidus), because they carry the flower buds formed in the previous growing season.
  • If seedlings are not desired, remove old flowers before seed is set.


Although plants may be slow to settle in, once they do, they rarely need division and may resent it.

End-of-Season Care

  • Do not prune back now; wait until early spring.
  • Mulch with salt marsh hay if desired.

Calendar of Care

Early Spring

  • Apply a light application of balanced or slow-release fertilizer or side-dress with compost and organic amendments when new growth appears.
  • H. niger may benefit from a side-dressing of Epsom salts or dolomitic lime.
  • Prune back old foliage to make room for new growth.
  • Transplant now if desired.


  • Water well if it is unseasonably dry as plants prefer evenly moist soil.

Late Spring

  • Watch for slug or snail damage and control if necessary.
  • Remove old flower stems as they decline, and deadhead if seedlings are not desired.


  • Pull out any unwanted new seedlings as hybrids may not come true from seed; move desirable species seedlings to permanent locations.
  • Groom plants by removing yellow or dead leaves.


  • Add lime to acid soil for H. x hybridus if a soil test shows a pH under 7.0.
  • Do not prune back for winter
  • A light mulch of salt marsh hay may be beneficial.



Growing Hellebores
A WFF Quick Look: Hellebores
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