Helenium ‘Sombrero’
Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’

Wanted for: bringing vibrant colour to your garden in late summer

Colour: warm yellows, orange and reds

AKA: sneezeweed

Helenium plants are popular due to their warm-hued, daisy-like flowers which appear during the late summer and their appeal to wildlife such as bees, hoverflies and butterflies, an important characteristic for the average gardener today (Polly ‘N’ Nate approved!) Commonly referred to as sneezeweed, they were first used as a snuff, where their dried, powdered leaves would be inhaled to cause violent sneezing, thought to rid someone of evil spirits. But don’t let this fool you, they are friendly to you hay fever sufferers as their pollen is spread via pollinators rather than wind, and the pollen particles are too large to be inhaled.

Helenium are often used in prairie style planting schemes, which utilizes a mixture of grasses and flowering perennials to replicate grassland (more on this in a later blog post). They compliment taller grasses, other plants with daisy-like flowers such as echinaceas or red hot pokers (kniphofia). Helenium’s should be planted in full sun and while they thrive in most soils, very heavy, wet soils should be avoided. They should also be placed in a position which is sheltered from the wind, as the flowers can grow quite tall and so are susceptible to breakage. To avoid breakage, taller varieties are worth staking early in the season or more commonly, cut them back after flowering has finished. 

Helenium plants are a great choice to bring that late summer colour to your garden, while attracting much needed wildlife which will keep the rest of your garden happy and healthy. If looked after, Helenium will come back year after year.

By Nadia Hallwood