This beautiful autumn flower has an unusually common name, Helenium is better known as ‘sneezeweed’ because the dried leaves were used to make snuff, a powdery tobacco product. This plant can be an annual or perennial, depending on the variety planted. So if you’re wondering how to grow Helenium for your Autumn/Fall garden then keep reading!
Helenium is in the daisy family and bears yellow or orange daisy-like composite flowers from late summer until the first frost of Autumn/Fall. Attract those late-season pollinating bees and butterflies to your fall garden by planting some easy-care, colorful Heleniums.
Select a bright, sunny location that has soil that holds moisture. Heleniums prefer to be planted in a location that receives full morning or full afternoon sun. A location that is in full sun all day will cause the plants to dry out and wilt.
Heleniums grow best in moist to almost soggy soil. A low-lying area in your landscape, a rain garden or around the perimeter of a pond is an ideal planting location for this fall-flowering plant.
It can be grown in a typical flower garden, but be prepared to water the plant frequently.
In addition to needing a lot of water, Helenium is a tall-growing plant that will need to be staked or pruned by mid-summer.
The plant will reach a mature height of between 3-5 feet (90 – 150 cm) and become top-heavy if left un-pruned. The heavy flower heads will cause the plant to topple over instead of remaining upright. Stake plants to keep them upright.
Pruning Heleniums is another option, and this will keep the plants shorter and force them to develop lateral growth and produce more blooms. Prune plant in mid-summer to the desired height.
Starting New Plants
The most reliable way to start new plants is through root division. Dig Helenius up every few years (in spring) and divide the clump to start new plants.
Seeds can be collected for starting new plants as well, although germination rates are low.
The open-faced Helenium bloom will be around 2 inches (5 cm) and very vibrantly colored. These are some of the few plants that bloom during the autumn season, so they will take center stage wherever you plant them in the garden.
Bloom colors can range from sunny yellows to deep red to bi-color and the petals have a velvety texture.
Heleniums are not heavy feeders and will only need a light application of a balanced fertilizer or side dressing of compost in the spring.
Cut plants down to the foliage after they have finished blooming gin early winter.
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