Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Native to Eastern North America Helenium is a valuable "end of the season" bloomer, starting to flower in August and continuing until October. It's name translates to Autumn Sun which is an appropriate name for the much underused perennial.

There are many species of Helenium but Helenium autumnale is by far the most used and best species of this plant group. Through hybridization Heleniums have been crossed to create flowers in many colours. From yellows to golds, rusts to siennas, even burgundies and mixed combination in between, Heleniums come in a beautiful fall colour assortment. There are tall hybrids perfect for back of the border locations and dwarf cultivars that are ideal for up close viewing.

Heleniums require full sun, great drainage and occasional water in Summer. They practically need no fertilizing and grow wonderfully with one application of a general all purpose fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season. Make sure to mark your plants. When they come up in Spring they really look like weeds, it's easy to confuse them and pull the wrong plant.

Their common name is Sneezeweed, it comes from years ago when the dried nearly mature flowers were ground and made into a powder, then snorted for the treatment of colds and headaches. Thank goodness for modern medicine!

Heleniums are a great addition to your Autumn garden and pair beautifully with Rudbeckias, Sedums, Ornamental grasses, Caryopteris, Purple Asters, and Shrub Roses filled orange rose hips.


lisa said...

Thanks for this informative post, Bob! I never knew why the name "sneezeweed"...interesting!

Anita said...

Those heleniums are very pretty indeed, Bob! I have some in my yellow autumn border, too!

By the way, I collected many seeds of my pink mallow lavatera trimestris "Silver Cup". Should I save some for you when we do our seed swap? Do you know this pretty annual?

Have a wonderful week-end, Bob!

Best wishes, Anita

LostRoses said...

Bob, that helenium Autumn Sun sure deserves its name, doesn't it? Great photos of a plant that I've never tried and probably should!

Dirty Knees said...

I grow sneezeweed (Helenium 'autumnale') in my Central Ontario garden. This year it has been blooming since June. Is that unusual?
This is the plant's second season in my garden.

Bob said...

Anita, I appreciate the offer but I don't really have a great spot for them. Thank you though.
all the best, BOB

Lostroses, Thank you for the complement. I hope you can find a place for this great plant. BOB

Dirty knees, Usually they bloom for about 2 months. That's great that yours is blooming that long.
Happy gardening. BOB

Moe said...

I've never heard of these before, but they are beautiful. I may have to consider them next spring. Very nice!

Andrea's Garden said...

Beautiful. I just had to look up what their common name was in German. We have those over here, too. I haven't seen them in this color, more the yellow ones. I posted my Sunday update under my Saturday entry in case you are interested. Now I am beat from planting, rearranging and waiting for bedtime to come.

Who's doing a seed swap? I have lots of hollyhock seeds. Will be testing a type for next year that is not supposed to get the sick looking leaves. Take care! Andrea

Bob said...

Moe, glad you stopped by,Hope you can make a place for them, they are very easy to care for and bloom for a long time.

Bob said...

Andrea, Yes there are many hybrids that are in more fall colours. Let me know and I can suggest some of the better ones. Thanks for the info on your updated post, I'll check it out.
And Anita and I are doing a seed swap. Some of her lupine seed for some of my sunflowers. Let know and I'll send you some.
All the best, BOB

KC MO Garden Guy said...

Had these in the garden for a couple of years now but they are not blooming like they did in the past. It could be that they are getting crowed out by my purple cone flower. Thanks for information about heleniums. I had heard of sneezeweed before but didn't know that was what these are. Yes thank goodness for modern medicine. Cliff