A small genus of robust annuals and herbaceous perennials that produce masses of brightly coloured daisy-like flowers. Ideal for the middle or back of the summer border. The long flowering season means these attractive showy blooms will still be packing a punch when other perennials are starting to fade.
Family: Asteraceae (Daisy family)
Botanical Name: Helenium
Common Names: Sneezewort, sneezeweed
Foliage: Deciduous, simple green, lance-shaped leaves.
Flowers: Large daisy-like blooms with a prominent central disc, in shades of red, yellow and orange. Single, double or semi-double forms are available.
Flowering Period: Late summer to early autumn (July to September).
Soil: Moist but well-drained, fertile, humus rich soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Any pH. Avoid waterlogged conditions.
Conditions: Best in full sun. Plant in an east, west or south facing aspect.
Habit: Upright, clump-forming
Type: Herbaceous perennial.
Origin: North and South America.
Hardiness: Most varieties are fully hardy in the UK.
Most forms are easy to grow, providing a useful splash of yellows and reds in the late summer border. Plant from October to March, in full sun, in an open situation. Thrives best in fertile, moisture-retentive but well drained soil.
The long lasting flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees and other benificial insects.
Tall varieties are a good source of long-lasting cut flowers.
Needs very little care and attention if growing conditions are good. Water well in dry weather.
Stake or support taller plants as they grow. Mulch in spring.
Divide clumps every three years or so to prevent overcrowding and maintain vigour, replanting only the healthy outer sections.
Dead-head spent blooms as they fade. As a herbaceous perennial, helenium will die back to ground level each year in autumn and fresh new growth will appear again in spring.
These tough plants rarely suffer from pests or diseases. May occasionally be affected by leaf spot.
Divide established clumps in autumn or spring, replanting only the healthy outer sections.
A number of good garden varieties are available, mainly based on H. autumnale:
Helenium autumnale is a vigorous, hardy perennial, with green lance-shaped leaves and broad rounded orange/yellow flowers, with a distinctive central cone. Height to 5ft (150cm), spread to 2ft (60cm). Good cultivars include:
H. a 'Crimson Beauty' is a good early dwarf form (height to 2ft).
H. a 'Double Trouble' has flowers of gold with narrow ruffled petals around a button-like centre, from July until early autumn. Height to 31in (80cm), spread to 24in (60cm). Available at Van Meuwen.
H. a 'Wyndley' provides yellow flowers with a dark orange-brown centre from midsummer through to autumn. Available at Gardening Express.
Helenium hoopesii produces bright yellow daisy-like blooms with a large central disc, from August to September. Available at Gardening Express.
Helenium 'Lemon Sundae' a free flowering form with sunshine yellow daisy blooms from June to October. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Helenium 'Peach Sundae' early summer right through to Autumn. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Helenium x 'Ruby Tuesday' produces red flowers with fluted edges and a velvety yellow and red central disk. Height: 60cm (2'0). Spread: 45cm (1'6). Available at Van Meuwen.
Helenium 'Sahins Early' is a classic early flowering variety with deep bronze buds that open to flowers of varying shades of red and orange, from early summer into autumn. Available at You Garden.
Helenium puberulum 'Autumn Lollipop' is an unusual form with round heads of yellow and bronze with a tiny frill of ruffled petals. Height from 24-36in (60-90cm). Available at Thompson & Morgan.