Perfect Match-Hellebores and Daffodils

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The combining of plants happens naturally in the wild. Those things that enjoy the same growing conditions, light, moisture and soil type find each other without an online dating service or even well intentioned relatives.


So it is with hellebores, Helleborus orientalis which have seeded and spread themselves in the Fairegarden for over a decade, now carpeting the steep slope behind the main house and the daffodils, Narcissus ssp.

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The beauty of this combo is that the hellebores have such a long bloom period, with the flowers remaining intact and still attractive for several months while the daffodils flower and wane, with the bench warming reserves taking up the baton as early, mid and late season cultivars go through their time in the limelight.

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Both the hellebores and the daffodils are tough troopers, able to withstand close quarters and the competition for nutrients, moisture and light caused by living cheek by jowl together with no ill effects. In fact, that very closeness will allow the large, leathery hellebore leaves to disguise the curing daffodil foliage as it passes through the unsightly yellowing stage that is necessary for future blooming.


The partners begin their dance here in USDA Zone 7a in February in most years, with the pale pristine flowers of the white hellebores, those seem to open the soonest, joining the very early Narcissus psuedonarcissus. Click here to read about this very special daffodil. The yellow and white color scheme brightens a garden and the mood of the gardener as winter still is delivering its chilly oratory.

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As the early daff recedes into the background, mid and later season Narcissus come into play. H. ‘Blue Lady’ featured in the opening image of this post entertains the delightful N. ‘Sailboat’ in the Woodland Garden. N. ‘Mount Hood’ with its large trumpet and sepals of purest white continues beautifying the composition over on the steep slope.

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The double daffodil, N. ‘Tahiti’ escorts the hellebores as those flowers fade and the large seed pods form that add even more interest and texture, not to mention oodles of offspring. Some of the seed pods are nipped off with nimble fingers to prevent germination. A post about that maneuver can be read by clicking here.


As with nearly all of the pleasant pairings of plants here, I can make no claim of clever clairvoyance. Holes are dug and bulbs are thrust into any open ground, to be sorted out later, if needed. It just happened that the Helleborus orientalis and Narcissus spp. hit it off so well. Spontaneous serendipity.

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More Perfect Matches:
Perfect Match-Heavy Metal and Summer Wine
Perfect Match-Echinacea and Rudbeckia
Perfect Match-Crimson Queen Maple and Sunpower Hosta

Frances

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12 Responses to Perfect Match-Hellebores and Daffodils

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    These do seem to be the perfect match for early spring. Throw a few anemones at their feet and you would have a trifecta. I have some anemones by some REd Lady hellebores and that combo looks good. Now I will put some daffs in with them. It will be great.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for the idea. Anemones aren’t that happy here, or maybe I have tried growing the wrong kinds?
    Frances

  2. Well, DUH ,on my part, why did I never think of such a perfect pairing??!! Talk about a GIANT light bulb going off moment….reading this post and seeing your pictures….next year, I simply have to have some daffodil and hellebore groupings. There will be no excuse except laziness on my part. I have thrown down a gauntlet and dare myself not to step up to this self declared challenge.
    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration…the rest is up to me.

    Glad to be of help in the ever going garden improvement movement, Michaele! HA
    Frances

  3. Cindy says:

    There’s a lot of spontaneous serendipity here at Wit’s End, too! My role is as much that of editor as it is gardener!

    Hi Cindy, thanks for sharing. I feel sort of like a referee sometimes, keeping peace on the slopes. Usually we just let them play on! HA
    Frances

  4. Yvonne says:

    I am a newbie to your blog. Thank you for all the effort that goes into sharing your world with me! I live near Charleston, SC in zone 8. We are warned about nematodes in our soil and I’m not sure what they affect. It doesn’t get cold for very long here. We usually have a few nights of 10 degrees but it isn’t enough to really freeze bulbs. Is that a real problem for bulbs? Do nematodes affect bulbs. We also have moles, I tend to blame them for anything that doesn’t perform well….

    Hi Yvonne, thanks for visiting and welcome. I know nothing about nematodes, sorry to say, but I do know that daffodils are poisonous to critters. Except for snails and slugs. I suggest you search out bulbs that can grow with the amount of cold chill your area receives. Local gardeners and/or garden centers would be helpful. I do know a great garden center in that area, Hyams, that would be a good place to start. Good luck!
    Frances

  5. Alison says:

    This is an inspired combo, not one I would have thought of, given that I normally think of Hellebores as shade plants and Narcissus as needing lots of sun. But judging by your pictures, they seem to do really well together. I’ll have to give it a try.

    Hi Alison, thanks for visiting. The hellebores here grow in full sun, partial sun and total shade. The ones in sun seem to flower the most. These are Helleborus orientalis only, not the niger or hybrids of different species mix.
    Frances

  6. gittan says:

    Wow! The first picture… it´s just beautiful <3
    Have a nice weekend / Kram gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks for stopping by, so nice to see you. You too, have a lovely weekend!
    Kram
    Frances

  7. Christy says:

    This combo is wonderful! You sure have a lot of daffys and Hellebores….they are so beautiful!!

    Hi Christy, thanks. The daffodils have been dug and spread by me but the hellebores have spread themselves.
    Frances

  8. I was thinking as I was transplanting some of my own hellebores and noticing how the blossoms nodded downward, that your slope shows them off to best advantage. It is easier to see the flowers when you are looking up at them. But maybe mine will look up a bit more once they’ve settled into their new home.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for sharing here. The slope is the perfect place to show off the hellebores, it’s true. But for many of the close ups, I am down on the ground looking up at them.
    Frances

  9. Another good pairing is Scilla and Daffodils, also Daffodils and daylilies! Or you could have an early to late spring trio: Hellebores, Daffodils, and early Daylilies.

    Those are all good matches, Jason, thanks for the suggestion. Daffodils and daylilies make up most of the bed known here as the Daylily Hill. They are indeed perfect together. The hellebores are so large and fruitful in multiplying here, they would crowd out the daylilies in time. Not allowed!
    Frances

  10. A lovely and natural combination, Frances. How wonderful to have the plants naturalizing in drifts in your garden!

    Hi Beth, thanks. It is wonderful how the hellebores have seeded, almost too wonderful at this point. The daffodils have been spread by hand and spade over the years, but do thicken into larger clumps over time. They are good together!
    Frances

  11. The combination of daffodils and hellebores is very close to perfect. I really like the color combination. I have quite a few hellebores because I like the long flowering period. I am going to experiment with daffodils now that I have seen them together.

    Hi Charlie, thanks for stopping by. The hellebores and yellow daffodils go perfectly together, despite what some color averse might think. Late winter needs color, that is why the daffodils are so cheering.
    Frances

  12. ryan says:

    I totally agree about the hellebores, though I hadn’t really thought of them as a combination before. The two plants fixed a difficult spot in a my sister’s garden, without me making a conscious decision to use them together, and this week several different family members separately told me how good that spot looked. So thank you hellebores and daffodils. That first photo looks like you could just cut it across the bottom and stick it right into a vase. So nice.

    Hi Ryan, thanks for visiting. It sounds like your hellebore and daffodil combination for your sister is a perfect match!
    Frances

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