I am sure that some of my close horticulture friends tire of me singing the praise of Helleborus x ericsmithii. Frankly, I do not care. If they would only buy this phenomenal floristic spring blooming beauty, they too would be converted to “Ericsmithii enthusiasm.”
Where do I start the praise? First, they are floriferous beyond belief. The number of blooms per plant is truly remarkable.
The floriferous nature of the plant resides in the fact that it is sterile. The flowers are not fertile and do not set seeds. This allows the plant to spend much more time on being beautiful.
The second desirable trait is flower orientation. They hold their flowers above the foliage, facing up and out. Many of Helleborus x hybridus hang their heads down, requiring you kneel to truly enjoy their flowers.
The foliage is also outstanding, always clean and healthy. Unlike the H.x hybridus, there is often very little annual removal of the previous years foliage. Only the occasional dead or torn leaf needs attention.
Helleborus x ericsmithii has a slightly complicated parentage. Helleborus niger was crossed with Helleborus x sternii. Helleborus x sternii is a cross between Helleborus argutifolius and Helleborus lividus.
The variation in Ericsmithii cultivars is minor. White, cream and pink colored blossoms often fading to pink with varying levels of leaf color, leaf venation and stem color account for most of this variation.
Until recently H.x Ericsmithii has been hard to find locally. Ivory Prince was often our only option. Last spring I started seeing more variety in the finer garden stores in our area. Pipkins Market and Greenfield Plant Farm would a good place to start you search in Cincinnati. Just a few weeks ago Lowe’s Home Improvement had a big rack of the variety “Winter Bliss”. Mail order is still going to offer the best variety. Pine Knot Farms and Fraser’s Thimble Farms have an excellent selection.
So go out and make the effort to find these plants. Stunning sterile flower power at its best.