Plant Description

Helleborus foetidus

Helleborus foetidus with golden Acanthus and Syngonium in a shady spot

Helleborus foetidus (ht 80 cm) is a hellebore species from West and Central Europe, with attractive finely dissected leaves. I have found that it is not as long lived as some of the other hellebores that grow in Sydney, but it lasts for a few years and where happy, it will self-seed, providing replacements for the original plant when it becomes woody and unproductive. These seedlings can be transplanted, if care is taken not to disturb the roots too much. The species has green leaves and bunches of pale green bell-shaped flowers in winter and early spring. It is a useful plant for dry spots.

A recent cultivar, 'Gold Bullion', has golden leaves in spring (which age to chartreuse) and gold-infused bell-shaped flowers. It grows about 50 cm tall. It prefers a slightly alkaline soil in sun or part shade but doesn't seem as tolerant of dry soil as the species. If grown in part-shade, the flowers are more of a lime-gold colour. I cut back the flowered stems at the end of the blooming season - which does last a very long time. Cutting off most of the flower stems before the seeds fully develop (leaving one or two old flowerheads behind to produce seeds for new seedlings) may help prolong the plant's life.

It is best to buy these plants from a specialist nursery.


Helleborus foetidus
Suitable for Cut Flowers.
Out now in my Sydney garden.
Flowers from May to October.
Plant Family: Ranunculaceae

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