University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
A hellebore, lungwort, perennial
geranium, sedum, and joe-pye weed are among my favorite new or
hardy perennials. All have proven hardy in my USDA zone 4 (-20 to -30
for several years.
Ivory Prince hellebore (‘Walhelivor’
as it is known by its patent cultivar name) is one of my favorite
recent years, with its creamy white flowers emerging from red buds in
spring. Unlike many hellebores, this
British introduction has many flowers held upright. Hardiness can be a
problem with many other
new hellebore introductions. This
hellebore performs best with cooler summer temperatures.
Plant Ivory Prince in a moist
organic soil for best growth. It grows
well in part to full shade, but can tolerate sun in the north if
moisture. Once established, though, it
does show some drought tolerance. Also
unlike many hellebores, this one doesn’t show much winter leaf injury.
If leaves are brown, prune off in late winter
prior to bloom. New ones will appear in
‘Berries and Cream’ is a relatively
new lungwort, attractive with its very silvery leaves and contrasting
colors of raspberry pink and blue. Like
its many of its other relatives, the
change from pink to blue with age, a signal of aging flowers to their
pollinators. This trait
rise to the common name for lungworts of “soldiers and sailors”.
Cultural conditions are similar to
the hellebore, although this plant wilts or browns if too dry, and can
too wet. It is more resistant to the
white powdery mildew disease on leaves than many related cultivars
variety). If older leaves turn yellow,
just pull off (de-leaf).
‘Espresso’ is a relatively new
native perennial geranium, selected from woods nearby to a nursery in
southeastern Pennsylvania. Its name is from the chocolate colored
leaves, the main attraction of this plant.
Best leaf color is in full sun, but this plant will take some shade.
Leaves may turn crispy brown on the edges if
the soil gets too dry. The lavender
flowers make a nice contrast with the leaves over several weeks in
Sedum or stonecrop is a popular
genus, ‘Matrona’ being one of the choice new cultivars. It has
attractive bluish-green leaves on burgundy
stems. It is one of the upright sedum,
getting up to two feet high. Flowers are
clusters atop the stems in late summer and early fall, the dull red
chocolate brown in winter. This plant
really needs full sun, getting straggly in shade. Hot and humid
conditions may lead to some
leaf spot diseases.
Joe-pye weed is a wildflower native
to eastern North America, often seen in moist
ditches along roads in late summer.
‘Gateway’ is a cultivar with larger and denser flowers than the
held on wine red stems. It can reach six
feet tall, and form clumps to three feet across. Cut back by half in
early summer if you want
a shorter plant. This perennial will
tolerate occasionally wet soils. Leaves
may turn brown if soils get too dry.
Look online on my Perry’s Perennial
Pages for more information on these and other choice perennials
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