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Do Hellebores Spread? [Gardening Ideas]

Hellebore works as a medicine against different human problems, but on the ground, Hellebores do spread, sometimes making it difficult for other plants.

As the low-lying Hellebore clump increases in size and produces multiple offspring, they spread to about 2 to 3 feet. Also, because they are self-seeding and low maintenance, they’ll keep growing and returning once planted. 

Meanwhile, there are many misconceptions about Hellebores being invasive. Follow along to learn the ultimate truth about the plant.

Do Hellebores Come Back Every Year?

Hellebores, commonly known as Lenten Rose, is a perennial plant belonging to the Buttercup family Ranunculaceae. 

Once planted in your garden in the fall, their specific adaptation, like winter dormancy, self-seeding, and clumping habits, allows the plant to persist through different seasons and return yearly.

At the end of the growing season, Hellebore goes dormant and thus can withstand the harsh winter snow and frost. And with the onset of spring in the following years, Hellebore’s above-growth (vegetative) revives. 

Adding to it is the self-sowing ability of the plant. Hellebores produce several seeds in a seed pod that ripes and splits open, dispersing the seeds in the vicinity.

These seeds potentially grow into new Hellebore plants, thus creating a new generation ready for upcoming years.

Further, you’ll witness the rose-like bloom in pink to purple, green, or even near-black color throughout late winter to early spring every year. 

However, the deep-rooted plant doesn’t do well in a pot due to the constricted space. Therefore, you may not be able to save your potted Hellebore for more than a growing season. 

Are Hellebores Invasive?

The long-lived woody Hellebores are often considered invasive due to their growth habit and self-sowing nature. 

On the contrary, the self-sown seeds take two to three years to reach the flowering stage, even under its favorite partial daylight at 60°F to 65°F.

Similarly, for the pre-existing plant to start producing the new offsets, the plant has to complete the dormancy phase. This may take anywhere from 10 to 12 months.

Although Hellebores do spread, they are generally well-behaved and unlikely to pose any invasive characteristics.

That said, when the plants are left unattended for longer, Christmas Rose, Corsica Hellebore, and Stinking Hellebore can spread to more than two feet.

Depending on the climatic condition and variety used, they will keep producing offshoots from the base of the plants. And as the clumps expand, the Hellebores spread and take over the garden space for other plants. 

Further, Hellebore’s deep expanding root may sometimes interfere with the neighboring plant’s root growth if you have other plants nearby.

So, choose plants like ferns and begonias with shallow roots that can thrive in similar growing conditions as Hellebore.

Before any invasive effect, here is how you can stop the Hellebores.

  • Deadhead the flowers once it fades away to restrict the formation of seed. 
  • If the pod formation has started, remove the pods to prevent the seed dispersal that can germinate into a new plant. 
A hellebore flower covered in a net to prevet the seed dispersal that do spread..
You may also prevent seed dispersal by tying a thin net over the blooms.
  • Dig up the clumps and separate the offshoots every few years to maintain the size and avert excessive spreading.
  • Apply a layer of plastic mulch to prevent the germination and establishment of dispersed seeds along with weed management.
  • Regularly monitor your garden for new growth beyond the desired area. If any, uproot the seedling to halt the re-growth.

From Editorial Team

Hellebores do not enjoy disturbance in their root zone, especially when you dig up and try moving them.

Ensure you carefully handle the plants, or you’ll end up damaging the existing plant instead.