Hellebore flowers (Helleborus orientalis) are terrific perennials to consider if you want to add some color to a shade garden.
There are quite a few different species of this plant such as the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) and Lenten roses (H. hybridus) that all grow well in shaded areas and produce beautiful blooms that can lighten up your garden from late winter to spring.
These classy perennials can add year-round interest to your garden but they look their absolute best if you pair them with a couple of other plants that can accentuate the flowers or fill out the garden bed a little bit.
In this guide, we are going to explore some of the best companion plants for all types of hellebores to add to your garden beds for a more striking effect.
What to Grow With Hellebore Flowers
While you are busy matchmaking, there are two important things to keep in mind.
First, you will need to find companion plants that can grow well in the same conditions as your lenten rose plants.
And secondly, you should seek out plants that are going to complement hellebores in some way.
Hellebore plants grow well in full shade but can also develop well in dappled shade to full sun as long as they are kept moist.
These flowering plants prefer well-drained soil with a pH level of around 5.5. Plants that are kept in full sun should be kept moist but they can also struggle if too wet, especially if they are grown in full shade and wet conditions.
Because of their unique ability to survive in full shade, you can grow hellebores underneath trees and shrubs. Their low height of just 9 – 18 inches also makes them ideal for border planting and they are excellent ground covers to include if you want to keep the soil moist in larger garden beds.
Let’s take a look at some great companion plants that can grow in these conditions or that can be successfully paired with hellebore plants.
Here’s what to plant with hellebores:
Begonia flowers (Begonia) are excellent selections if you are looking for something to grow alongside your lenten roses because they have very similar growing needs and can add multi-season interest to your yard because they bloom from summer to late fall.
There are over 1000 different species of begonia and their flowers range from simple flowers to beautiful rose-like blooms in just about any color you can imagine.
Begonias will flourish in rich and well-drained soil types and they also need to be kept moist but not too wet. If the roots of begonias become dry the plant can quickly wilt and die.
These flowering plants might need a little bit less sun than lenten roses but they can tolerate a bit of sunlight which means they should fare just fine in your garden bed.
You can plant begonias and hellebores next to one another or establish the slightly shorter hellebores in the front where they might receive a little bit more sunlight.
European Wild Ginger
European wild ginger (Asarum europaeum) is a good option for your garden if you are looking for low-maintenance foliage that can fill out your garden bed.
Wild ginger isn’t known for its flowers. The flowers are usually dark in color and are often hidden away by the leaves. The plant is usually selected for its beautiful heart-shaped evergreen leaves.
These woodland perennials produce dense foliage and can look very charming alongside your lenten roses. The evergreen plants will also add lots of year-round interest and act as a ground cover to keep the moisture trapped inside the soil. The evergreen growth will also keep weeds from sprouting in your hellebore bed.
You can grow wild ginger all around your hellebores or establish them in a row in the front. These shade-loving perennials will grow very well in the shade and they will benefit a great deal from the rich well drained soil that lenten roses love so much.
Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera) can be a good addition to your Christmas rose garden if you want to close gaps between plants or create a ground cover that can keep the plants moist.
This beautiful self-sowing plant will also add lots of interest to your garden from late spring to early fall when your Christmas roses are no longer in bloom. During this time, this creeping plant will create a carpet of vivid blooms in colors like red, white, lavender, purple, or red while in bloom but won’t steal the show from your hellebores because creeping phlox don’t bloom during the colder months.
This companion plant is very easy to grow and it will fare pretty well in the same nutrient-rich soil as hellebore.
It is best to establish this plant in the front of your garden bed because creeping phlox does need quite a bit of direct sunlight to flourish. It can grow in dappled shade but won’t produce as many flowers.
Ferns (Tracheophyta) and hellebores are good forest floor buddies and adding these attractive foliage plants to your garden will create a texture-rich backdrop that can make your hellebores stand out so much more.
Ferns are excellent companions because they thrive in moisture-rich environments and they require lots of shade to grow well.
You should be a little bit careful when selecting the right fern varieties. There are an incredible number of fern species and botanists believe that there could be as many as 15,000 different species. The different varieties of fern can grow anything from 12 inches to 6 feet tall.
It is best to establish taller varieties like ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthioptheris) behind your hellebores. In comparison, you can add shorter varieties like Dwarf lady fern (Minutissimum) in front of or amongst the hellebores to fill out the garden bed.
The winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is a good selection for your garden if you want to add even more color to your yard during springtime. These early spring bulbs look a little bit like buttercups and will complement most hellebore varieties perfectly.
Winter aconite is a low-growing plant that only reaches a maximum height of 6 inches. Its low stature makes it ideal as a ground cover and it can be used as a border plant if you want to add more structure to your garden bed.
These yellow flowers are a perfect match for hellebores because they prefer partial shade and moist but properly draining soil.
This flower, along with hellebores is ideal for woodland gardens or creating a lush forest look.
It is best to establish the shorter winter aconites in the front of your garden bed but you can also establish them around the taller hellebores so those beautiful bulb flowers can stand tall and in contrast to the yellow surroundings.
Grecian windflowers (Anemone blanda) are suitable companion plants because they grow well in the same conditions as hellebores and they also bloom from late winter to early spring. With these two plants in the same bed, you will have vivid displays of color to brighten up your day before spring even arrives.
Grecian windflowers have similar characteristics to hellebores. They prefer partial shade to full shade, they need to be kept moist and these shade-loving perennial plants prefer moist draining soil.
You can grow Grecian windflowers all around your hellebores because these companions are short with a maximum height of just 6 inches and they are slow-growing plants that won’t overpower the hellebores. A blanket of windflowers with gorgeous blue and white flowers will look charming when hellebores are peeking out amongst them.
Forget Me Not
Forget me not flowers (Myosotis) are ideal for gardeners who love blue flowers but they also come in varieties with white or pink flowers.
These delicate plants are a perfect match for hellebores because, as with hellebores, they also need to be established in a shady spot in your garden and they thrive in rich and nutrient soils that are frequently watered.
Forget me not plants grow up to 6 inches tall which means these hellebore companions won’t overpower the other plants in your garden at all. Instead, these short-lived perennials will stay close to the ground and spread out while producing lots of tiny flowers that can accentuate the taller hellebores.
For a striking effect, it is best to mass plant these beautiful flowers all over your garden with lots of hellebore plants peeking out from all over.
The checkered lily (Fritillaria affinis), also known as snake’s head Lilly, guinea, hen flower, or chess flower, is a very interesting bulb plant to consider in a lenten rose garden. These flowering perennials will add lots of texture to your garden bed because they have long spiky leaves that resemble ornamental grasses.
The bell-shaped blossoms will also complement your hellebores perfectly because the colors are very unique with lots of earthy yet vivid tones. The interesting checkered pattern on the flower petals can add a lot of interest.
Chess flowers are wildflowers that can be grown in your garden with great success as long as you establish them in rich moist soil. They love the partial shade but can grow well in full sun.
To enhance the aesthetics of your spring garden, it is best to establish this wildflower amongst your Christmas roses. The Lillies will produce flowers that are taller which can create a striking effect in a garden bed filled with hellebores.
What NOT to Grow with Hellebore
Not all plant species will grow well in the same bed as hellebores. Some plant varieties don’t grow too well in the same conditions and some plant species grow too vigorously for these slow growers. Here is a quick look at some plants that you should avoid in your hellebore bed.
Drought Tolerant Plants
The root systems of drought-tolerant plants tend to become diseased if these species are established in shaded areas or if they are watered more than once per week.
It is true that many drought-tolerant plants can survive in these conditions but their growth can be stunted. It is best to avoid planting varieties like succulents, lavender, spider plants, ZZ plants, or zebra cactuses in humid and shaded areas where hellebores thrive in.
Hellebores do enjoy a little bit of sun but they can wilt and die if you establish them in direct sun.
Sun-loving plant varieties, on the other hand, might survive in shade but their growth will be stunted and they won’t produce any flowers in these conditions.
It is best to avoid sun-loving plants like lavender, black-eyed susans, marigolds, petunias, calibrachoas, and blanket flowers in your shaded gardens. These types of companion plants won’t offer much interest since they won’t bloom in the shade and they can even make your garden look a bit weak.
Where is the best place to plant Helleborus?
The best place to plant Helleborus, also known as Lenten Rose, is in partial to full shade with well-draining soil. These perennial plants thrive in locations with dappled sunlight and protection from harsh afternoon sun, making them suitable for woodland gardens or shaded borders.
Do hellebores have deep roots?
Hellebores, including the popular Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis), typically have fibrous and shallow root systems rather than deep roots. They prefer well-draining soil and are well-suited for planting in areas where their roots can spread horizontally. This adaptability makes them suitable for various garden settings, including under trees or in shaded borders.
Hellebores are beautiful flowers on their own but they look so much better when you pair them with companion plant species. The lenten rose has many friends and can be successfully paired with all sorts of ornamental species like begonias, European wild ginger, creeping phlox, ferns, winter aconites, Grecian windflowers, forget-me-nots, and many others.
We hope that our guide made it a little bit easier for you to find the best hellebore companion plants so you can create gorgeous beds or container ideas that come to life with the dawn of spring.
If you are adding other plants to our garden, then you should look at some of our other guides. In these guides, we discuss companion plants for a huge variety of plant species so you can grow a beautiful, healthy, and organic garden that is easy to maintain.
See more: What does hellebore flower represent?