Hellebore Leaves Turning Yellow – 6 Reasons and Treatment

Discovering your evergreen hellebore leaves turning yellow is extremely heart aching. But it is a common problem that takes place when the plant has to suffer from any stresses. Generally, environmental factors cause stress to the hellebore plant. Again, there can be some other problems including watering, soil type, overfeeding, temperature changes, pest and disease attacks, and others.  

Surely, the yellow leaves make the hardy perennial plant look unattractive. Whereas its green foliage will add to its overall beauty.  However, leaves turning brown or yellow hellebore is not a rare thing.

Nonetheless, the moment you discover the leaves of the hellebore are becoming yellowing, prompt treatment becomes essential. Thus, let us help you with elaborate discussions about the topic and remedies for each problem.


Fixing Guide

Watering Issue1/2 times a week
Climate and Temp. ChangesKeep the plant indoors during winter
Soil TypeAmend the soil by adding lime
Sun damageEnsure partial shade
Pests and diseasesApply pesticides and fungicides
OverfeedingApply slow-release fertilizer

Reasons Why Hellebore Leaves Turning Yellow [With Solutions]

Hellebore Leaves Turning Yellow Fixing

1. Watering Issue

Most plants suffer from stress because they may be going through either underwatering or overwatering.


Hellebores are tolerant to drought to some extent. But if they are not established yet then underwatering can kill them by turning the leaves yellow.

Moreover, if your shrub does not get enough water in its growing stage, then surely it will affect the young leaves.

Again, moisture is important to transport the essential nutrient elements and minerals to the entire plant from the soil. This fact is true not only for your hellebore plants but also for other plants as well.

Furthermore, if you left the shrub without watering for a long period then it will affect most of the older leaves. Mature leaves near the ground will turn yellow and later, will become brown.

Eventually, the leaves wilt and become brittle. Therefore, you might also witness leaf dropping. Nonetheless, underwatering affects the younger leaves and top leaves as well. The edges of the leaves also turn yellow in color.


Well, it is true that Hellebore wants the soil to be moist to some extent. But that does not indicate that they will appreciate stagnant water near their roots. The shrub will react promptly if you keep overwatering it.

Soggy soil does not allow the plant roots to uptake oxygen. Hence, the roots become drowned and dead. Consequently, several pathogens like bacteria and fungus find their way to intrude on the tree and cause several diseases.

Most diseases later show symptoms like yellowing or browning of the leaves. Also, brown leaf spot symptoms are very common in such cases.

Again, it can further lead to root rot. Root rot later spreads the infection to the leaves and stems of the hellebore. As a result, it might become more difficult to salvage your precious hellebore anymore.

Control Measure

  • As the remedy for underwatering your hellebore, you can set a watering schedule for a week. Generally, one or two times watering a week is required by the plant especially when the weather is too hot and dry.
  • During the rainy season, you barely need to water the hellebore in your garden since the rainwater already does the job.
  • However, it is better to go for a two-finger test before watering your plant. Dip the fingers in the soil where you have planted the hellebore. If the soil of the area feels dry then know that you have to keep watering until the soil gets wet at least an inch deep.
  • Also, since the first two growing seasons of hellebore is important for its better establishment, consistent watering has to be ensured. It also ensures the development of strong roots.
  • Moreover, during spring and summer, you have to water the hellebore heavily. Thus, underwatering during these periods will affect its leaves letting no flower bloom.

For your information, potted hellebore requires more water compared to the hellebore that is planted in the ground.

2. Climate and Temperature Changes

If the climate in your area is warmer then definitely the temperatures are higher as well. So, it will not be surprising at all when the hellebore leaves are turning yellow or brown. The higher temperatures are the main reason for the discoloration. Though the plant is tolerant to high temperatures to some extent.

The discoloration, however, cannot be considered a disease. Moreover, this browning or yellowing of the hellebore leaves can also be caused by colder weather or maybe by bad weather. The dry air of the winter causes wilting and yellowing of the leaves.

However, surprisingly, snowfall, on the other hand, plays a great role in this aspect. It protects the plant leaves working as a shield. Being an insulator, snow protects vulnerable leaves from being browned and damaged by the harsh air of winter.

Nonetheless, since this is not a disease that causes a major problem the plants, constant changes in temperatures might hit differently.

Control Measure

  • When it is winter and your hellebores are potted, bring them indoors where no cold or hot draft can pass.
  • Eventually, the hellebore will grow new green foliage when the temperature is tolerant. Yet when the leaves get yellow and brown, trim them off.
  • Winter is also the reason for many dead leaves. So, remove the dead leaves as well and wait for the fresh and green foliage to come back.

3. Soil Type

Soil for Hellebore

Soil type matters a lot if you want to see your hellebore thriving healthily. Needless, to say that like any other shrub, hellebore also requires soil that has a great deal of organic matter. Also, it has to offer a great drainage system.

Moreover, the soil has to ensure proper nutrients as well. But unfortunately, if the soil cannot offer any of the properties of your hellebore, then surely it will start showing symptoms including yellowing of leaves.

Again, the soil is partly responsible to offer greener plants. But only when it comes with all the properties the plant requires. For example, if you plant the hellebore in clay soil then surely it will not offer a proper drainage system.

It is because the soil is compact. Therefore, the soil cannot eliminate extra water from it. Consequently, the roots of the hellebore cannot uptake the essential nutrients from its stems and leaves. Thus, curling and yellowing of hellebore leaves take place.

Then again, this situation leads to the stunting of hellebore plant growth. Hence, the plants remain immature as well.

Control Measure

  • To make sure the soil is rich in organic matter, you can apply green manure or mulch the soil before planting the hellebore shrub.
  • Again, in case your hellebore is planted in a pot, ensure to create holes at the bottom for draining excess water.
  • Moreover, the holes also ensure the drying of the soil as well so that it gets prepared to have the next watering. It is important to get an aerated well to have the best result of watering.
  • Also, to let you know, hellebore plants prefer alkaline soil. Thus, if the soil where you have planted the hellebore is acidic in nature then you might have to replace it with fresh alkaline soil.
  • Nonetheless, you can also amend or neutralize the acidic soil by adding lime to it.

4. Sun Damage

Hellebore grows well in partial shade. They can also somehow survive under direct sunlight. But if they have to live for a long period under direct light then their leaves will scorch and turn yellow and brown.

Hence, sun damage mostly occurs in tropical regions since the light is too hot to tolerate. It also causes drought conditions.

Drought conditions do not allow the plant to uptake nutrients from the soil. Hence if the condition remains like this for a long time, the hellebore will not be able to feed itself.

Consequently, you will notice its growth rate is slowing down, the leaves are wilting and becoming yellow and dropping as well.

During winter, on the other hand, when there is a scarcity of sunlight, it can also turn the hellebore leaves yellow. We have already mentioned this fact before. It is because to thrive and bloom, a certain amount of light is a must for hellebores.

Control Measure

  • Plant your hellebore shrub in the garden where they will get shade from nearer trees.
  • Also, you can plant them in a place where they will not have to face direct sunlight.
  • Again, even if you have planted your hellebores indoors, try not to keep them in a place where they will get too much light.
  • Moreover, if there is no choice left, you can place a curtain over the hellebore plants to diffuse the direct light. It controls sun damage.
  • However, in times of light scarcity, you can set grow lights near the hellebores so that they can get their required amount of light.

5. Pests and Diseases

The most destructive encounter you might have to face is when you find your hellebore becoming yellow because of pest and disease attacks.

Though hellebores are resistant yet they can be susceptible to several pests due to several environmental situations. Nonetheless, hellebores are mostly attacked by aphids.

Aphids mostly attack the hellebore leaves and suck the sap from the leaves. Gradually, the leaves wilt and become yellow.

Again, you can also find brown spots and the yellow edge of the hellebore leaves. It occurs when downy mildew takes place and infects the leaves. This fungal infection also affects the hellebore flowers.

Moreover, hellebore black death is another disease caused by mosaic viruses. This disease creates yellow spots and streaks on the leaf surface. It is also responsible for stunting plant growth.

Control Measure

  • To deal with aphids, you can adopt some homemade remedies like applying neem oil with a cotton ball or brushing alcohol over the leaves. Applying the remedies for a month and once a week will help remove the pests if the infestation is not that severe.
  • In the case of severe infestation, you might have to apply the best pesticide to get rid of aphids
  • However, in the case of fungal infection, you can apply a fungicide (our pick: Monterey LG 6145 70% Neem Oil Ready-To-Spray Insecticide, Miticide, & Fungicide)
  • Again, take all the infested plant parts and burn them away from the garden,
  • If your hellebores are potted, separate the affected pot from other healthy plants. Otherwise, the diseases might spread to them as well.

6. Overfeeding

Last but not least, overfeeding can also be a reason for this problem. Surely, hellebore requires food for its healthy survival. But overfeeding also that in the wrong time can cause several problems for them. It can even kill the plant.

Thus, following the proper method and ratio along with maintaining the right time is important before feeding or fertilizing the hellebores.

Control Measure

  • Fertilize hellebores using a slow-release or balanced fertilizer during spring. This time is suitable for applying fertilizer because new growth of the plant appears (our pick: Espoma Organic Plant-Tone 5-3-3 Natural & Organic All Purpose Plant Food)
  • If you feel you have overfed your hellebores then you can flush the extra fertilizer by allowing water to flow into the soil. Excess fertilizer will be gone through the drainage holes.


Are hellebores tolerant to drought?

Ans: Yes, hellebores are drought tolerant but only after they obtain establishment. Young hellebores tend to have several problems due to drought conditions.

 Should I cut the leaves off my hellebores?

Ans: After long winter, you might have to cut off the dead brown and yellow leaves of hellebore. November is suitable for this task.

Is hellebore annual or perennial?

Ans: Hellebore plants are perennial shrubs. Therefore, they tend to come back every year.

Final Words

Now that you know the possible reasons for hellebore leaves turning yellow, you should inspect the cause for your plant first.

According to the cause adopt the control measures we have mentioned in the guide. Know that every shrub requires some extra care and you should offer them as well.

So, if our article has helped you and was informative enough then let us know with your feedback.

James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg

James Rivenburg is the founder of plantandpest.com, a passionate gardener with valuable experience and knowledge gained through trial and error. The website has a large community of followers who trust his tips and techniques and have succeeded with his advice. He is always Committed to helping others create a beautiful and healthy garden.

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