We probably all love hellebores, but some people seem to like them leafy and some people like them naked. And sometimes the plants themselves seem to come kind of in-between. 

Aren’t they glorious?

So why de-leaf?

The biggest reason may be Leaf Spot. I really know nothing about this – we may have it, or we may just have nasty leaves sometimes. But I think cutting leaves off is supposed to help stop it spreading. If you want to know more try this link.

And sometimes the leaves have probably just gone manky. I have some like that:

Hellebore leaves copyright Anne Wareham

I understand that in some parts of the world, such as bits of America, by the time the flowers appear ALL the leaves are like that. So, yuk, yes, take them off. But my leaves often still look full of life as the flowers come, and the thing is, I like the flowers with their leaves. This is not a good photograph, (it’s not in my garden either) but for me it’s also not a good look:

hellebores copyright Anne Wareham

nor is the bare soil…


I am also inclined generally to believe that if there are healthy leaves then they are doing something some good, so I do prefer to leave them. A friend of mine says  “I only remove them from H. X hybridus. I don’t find the newer hybrids such as Penny’s Pink and the like are quite as strong- after a while, or for that matter quite as as leafy.” 

A hellebore with leaves, though one is clearly a holly leaf!

But some people are quite sure about this issue and take the leaves off the plants even if the leaves are immaculate. They say the leaves squash other things like snowdrops nearby and that nasty creatures (mice, voles) hide under the leaves and chomp the flowers. Well, I do get chomped flowers, rather randomly, but I find it hard to believe the leaves offer much of a hiding place. And my snowdrops and little flowers are elsewhere.

I am not really sure that I like the bare, sticky up look of a shorn hellebore. But I realise as I search for a photograph of some that there are differences amongst them that must make a difference to how they appear with no leaves. For example:

Stalky Hellebore-at-Veddw-Copyright-Anne-Wareham

That is a rather stalky one, with most leaves at the bottom of the stem. But some hellebores have leaves all the way up the stem and shorter stems too:

Leafy Hellebores

so not so easy to go chopping the leaves off that one?

Some years ago we were lucky enough to go on a visit to a nursery (in the UK) which specialises in hellebores, Ashwood Nursery.

Hellebores at Ashwood Nursery copyright Anne Wareham

You may spot the inevitable Charles there on the right….

And their hellebores were glorious and inconclusive as far as leaves is concerned. I begin to think that there are many things to consider. Like the variety – they kept the leaves on these:

Helleborus x Sternii at Ashwood Nursery copyright Anne Wareham

Helleborus x Sternii

and – this is just pretty and definitely no leaves!

Hellebore flowers at Ashwood nursery copyright Anne Wareham

They display some like this in their garden.

And I do know, perhaps most of all, that people will do what they feel like, whatever I or anyone else says. 

So I may be the only still ambivalent hellebore person. I have cut everything down in one bed.

Cut hellebore leaves copyright Anne Wareham

Here are cut leaves – cut in November to avoid damaging new buds. With added wood ash because it’s the easiest place to chuck it.

I will remove those manky leaves which no doubt horrified you. And I’ll leave other leaves to set my flowers off and save them from nakedness. And go on looking and pondering what is best. Sometimes maybe, there is no universally right answer?

And after all that I bet you’re thinking you’ve had a lot of words but you haven’t seen many great pictures of these wonderful flowers. (Sorry I don’t have names) So:

hellebore copyright Anne Wareham


Hellebore copyright Anne Wareham

They do like to show the back of their heads…


hellebore copyright Anne Wareham





Great way to display them.

hellebore at Ashwood

And I bet you have even better ones, if you have the right home for hellebores.