Helleborus ('Walhelivor') Ivory Prince

Hellebore Ivory Prince    Perennial of the Month-- April 2006 

(heal-e-BORE-us) (pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Hellebore, Lenten Rose

Family: Ranunculaceae, Buttercup

Height x width: 12-18" x 12-18"

Growth rate, habit: slow to moderate, upright

Foliage: divided, compound or palmate, leathery, coarsely-serrated margins, evergreen bluish-green

Flowers: creamy or ivory white with some green at base of petals, reddish in bud and around outer back edges when open, 1-2" across,  held upright, many;  flowers when cool, early in season over 4-6 weeks, Feb-Mar south, Apr-May north

Hardiness:  USDA zones 4-8

Soil: moist, organic, prefers slightly alkaline

Light: part shade to shade, may tolerate full sun in the north

Pests and problems: none serious, possibly leafspots but less than many cultivars and species; may have aphids under protected cultivation

Landscape habit, uses: woodland, shade garden, shaded slopes or rockery; combines well with foamflower, spring bulbs, low ferns

Other interest: one of the many new introductions, this one from the breeding of David Tristram, Walberton Nursery in England.  Although several sources list various parentage, the actual parents according to the plant patent are unknown but are hybrids of the species niger, x nigercors, and x ericsmithii.  It's legal cultivar name is 'Walhelivor'.   Tristram began crossing various hellebores and seed strains in 1980, and by 1995 began selecting promising cultivars, of which this was one.  This cultivar has more flowers and flowers held more upright, and less foliage winter injury than many others; tends to be resistant to deer and voles; drought resistant once rooted in.

Other culture: cut back winter-injured foliage in late winter prior to bloom, may have less injury and need less pruning than many cultivars; plants grow best in cooler temperatures

Propagation: patented, only from licensed propagators; not a seed strain so only by vegetative means such as tissue culture

Sources: specialty perennial nurseries locally and mail order/online

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