Hellebore Clean-up: Mud Season

– Posted in: Mud Season

It was 36F and very lightly snowing. There was no wind, so I called it good enough, bundled up and went out to trim some hellebores–the ones no longer covered with snow. Why trim hellebores? 1) The new foliage and buds look better without the ratty foliage that persevered through the winter. 2) It lets the winter-weary gardener pretend she is gardening when the soil is still frozen and most of the garden is still covered with snow, for pity’s sake. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

wintered over hellebores

These hellebore leaves have endured winter's worst and are on their way out.

where to cut hellebore foliage

Trim each leaf stalk close to the base, being careful not to damage the new growth.

cleaned up hellebore

This hellebore will now look its best throughout the upcoming spring.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Dennis from Edinboro PA July 15, 2011, 11:00 pm

My Hellebores is in a spot that gets roof high piles of snow. This past year they really got smashed, tho looked nice eventually. Has anyone ever tried covering them? I’m considering staking down clear big storage boxes. What do you think?
P.S. I only have two plants, not trying to cover a big garden.

gardenercaleb March 21, 2011, 1:39 am

I spent my afternoon tidying up hellebores – but it’s instant fun for me, since mine are in flower…

Ilona March 16, 2011, 9:47 am

I transplanted a number of my hellebores last year- they sure didn’t like that! The ones that bloomed got all squished under the snow. Not a stellar year for them at my house… But I think they should be settled back in by next year:)

Dirty Girl Gardening March 15, 2011, 8:09 pm

I love those little scissors… they work so well for projects like that.

Donna March 15, 2011, 12:16 pm

now that most of the snow has melted I can get to mine so thanks for the reminder…

Megan March 14, 2011, 11:05 pm

It was fun to find your blog. I’m originally from Elmira, and now far away, but in the same cold climate, for better or worse!

I too was out in the garden in the snow the last 2 weeks. Kind of amazing how much is going on out there, even under snowcover.

The ground ivy has already started taking off off in my strawberry patch and elsewhere, and dandelions are leafing out. I already find myself with too much to do when we haven’t even had our melt from the last blizzard.

How can this be?

Wonderful and terrifying all at once.

Kathy Purdy March 15, 2011, 8:07 pm

Megan, you’ve described it exactly. No fair growing when the soil is too frozen to pull you out!

VW March 14, 2011, 12:07 pm

So funny – snowing, 36 degrees, and you out gardening. Sounds like Spokane! Though I haven’t trimmed my hellebores yet. This week we’re supposed to hit 50 degrees a few times – sometimes without rain, even – which is marvelous gardening weather, so I’ll have to get out, too.

Deborah March 14, 2011, 9:33 am

The snow hasn’t receded off my hellebores yet, but this week should do it. It’s snowing right now but the rest of the week is supposed to be in the mid and upper 40’s! I had the same urges as you and took a walk instead, down to the pond to check out the giant pussy willows now in their glory. Snow is still almost to my knee out in the fields.

Kathy Purdy March 14, 2011, 10:10 am

We have some kind of shrub that makes catkins, too. I should go check that out later this week.

Lenny and Patrice March 14, 2011, 8:49 am

It sure helps the “cabin fever” to get get out and do a little garden cleanup! I am, once again, starting way too many seedlings under the lights. We hope the spring isn’t too cold and wet this year, can’t wait to get out and do our thing!
Len and Patrice in Rochester

Kathy Purdy March 14, 2011, 10:18 am

I am going to the Rochester Flower and Garden Show (Gardenscapes) this Friday. I wonder if you will be there?

Layanee March 14, 2011, 7:34 am

You are so right. This winter weary gardener did the same this weekend. Just for a few moments but one has to work up to gardening as the weather and the frozen muscles allow.

Cyndy March 14, 2011, 6:33 am

Hi Kathy, It seems some years trimming is really necessary, but this year, maybe because of snow cover that’s just gone this week the old foliage doesn’t look so bad…

Kathy Purdy March 14, 2011, 10:20 am

Even on one plant, I find the condition of the leaves is quite variable. In other years I only cut the ratty-looking ones and left the others, but then later on I discovered they started looking old, tired, and beat up, so now I cut all the leaves that are obviously from the past growing season.

Lynn March 13, 2011, 11:06 pm

…for pity’s sake! 🙂 I’ll get to mine soon–there look to be some still-good-looking leaves out there, too. It also looks like my H. niger might bloom for the first time (planted summer 2008), so it’s worth cutting back the dull stuff to see the blooms. Enjoy this warming trend!

Carol March 13, 2011, 10:53 pm

I trimmed mine yesterday. They always look a little awkward that first week or so after they’ve been trimmed, but they should look wonderful in a few weeks.

Diana March 13, 2011, 10:16 pm

Kathy – I can just imagine how much you are dying to get your hands in some soil by now. You should come visit us again. I need to prune up my Hellebores, too. I have two that look healthy and are blooming and 4 that look like … well…bad! Probably should have already pruned them a month ago to encourage new growth, but this is the first year that they didn’t come out nicely after winter.

Corner Garden Sue March 13, 2011, 9:52 pm

I got mine cut back a few days ago. I didn’t get it done last year. I just discovered hellebores 3 years ago, and am in love with them! I have one bud that I’m hoping opens up for the 15th.

Kathy Purdy March 13, 2011, 10:09 pm

I hope it opens for you. Hellebores seem to be able to grow in just about any kind of climate.