The Perfect Planting Companions for Hellebores

As a seasoned gardener in Philadelphia, I’ve discovered the best companion plants for hellebores during my years of experience. While I have a few personal favorites, I can assure you that the options I’ll present are based on verified first-hand knowledge. So, let’s dive right in after briefly touching on the growing conditions and other considerations required.

Where Do Hellebores Thrive?

Hellebores flourish in loamy soil that drains well but doesn’t dry out quickly. Picture a forest floor scattered with oak and maple leaves, surrounded by dappled shade and nutrient-rich soil. That’s the ideal home for a hellebore, minus the jacuzzi, of course. It’s crucial to pay attention to the soil’s pH level and choose companion plants accordingly. Although hellebores prefer a pH around 5.5, they can tolerate slightly higher or lower levels as long as other soil requirements are met. If needed, don’t hesitate to test the pH of your soil.

In my experience, these evergreen perennials thrive when provided with some friendly shade from nearby trees or shrubs. However, any form of shade will suffice. Hellebores, also known as Lenten roses, appreciate a bit of space between themselves and their neighbors. Here’s a personal observation I stand by—hellebores look their best when nestled in the corner of a garden bed, just like Baby from “Dirty Dancing” needing some personal dance space. Every time I’ve paused to admire a Lenten rose, it was when the plant was tucked into a nondescript corner, drawing visual support from its beloved companions. I regularly practice this approach in my plantings, and I encourage you to try it the next time you’re rearranging your garden or adding Lenten roses to the mix. But remember, any planting companions should flourish in the dappled shade environment preferred by hellebores. While a full-shade location may still appeal to the Lenten rose, these plants enjoy catching a few glimpses of sunshine throughout the day.

Annual Companion Options

One of the advantages of planting annual companions for hellebores is that you can change them out every year or even throughout the season. You have the freedom to experiment and add plenty of variety as you see fit. Keep in mind that annuals can grow quite large over the year, so make sure to leave enough space between them and your hellebores. To achieve this, carefully read the tag or seed packet of your annuals and follow the recommended spacing.

Here are my top picks for annual companion plants:

Begonia

Similar to impatiens, begonias (Begonia spp.) thrive in rich soil and with some love and attentive care. While some gardeners prefer planting clumps of begonias, I find that scattering a few here and there as accents works best. But it’s your garden, so plant them together as you like. Lenten roses and begonias make a great pair!

Cleome

One of my personal favorites, cleome (Cleome hassleriana) can reach impressive heights of up to six feet. Its tall, showy blooms add a touch of drama to your garden and perfectly complement hellebores.

Pansy

To my eyes, nothing beats the combination of hellebores and pansies (Viola spp.). These two plants beautifully complement each other, enhancing their best qualities. For an exquisite spring display, surround a hellebore patch with established pansies. They don’t bother each other and get along splendidly in the garden. If you want to learn more about growing pansies, check out our comprehensive guide.

In conclusion, when selecting planting companions for hellebores, consider their preferred growing conditions, such as dappled shade and well-draining soil. Experiment with annual companions to add variety and interest to your garden. Whether you choose begonias, cleome, or pansies, these plants will enhance the beauty of your hellebores and create an enchanting display. Happy gardening!