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Don't let the name Sneezweed scare you away from this stunning bloomer. The name came from the Native Americans use of the plant to make snuff. Heleniums are a gorgeous flower for the late summer/ early fall garden. They are covered in dozens of 2-3" flowers July-September and can rebloom in October.
The flowers come in shades of gold, yellow, rust and mahogany and are topped by a brown button. They also add some nice vertical height to the mixed border with some varieties reaching 5' tall. Not only do Heleniums look good in the garden but they are also as great cut flowers and good for bees. They are easy to grow and reliable in any fertile soil and tolerate quite a bit of moisture (a good candidate for the moist to mesic area of a raingarden). They blend perfectly with grasses, bee balm, yarrow and other late season bloomers.
Some of our favorite varieties:
Stunning burnt orange flowers on 2 ½-3' tall plants. Blooms August-September.
A new variety with rich gold flowers and multi-layered petals. This creates a fluffy "double" appearance. It grows 3' tall and 18" wide with sturdy stems great for cut flowers.
A taller Helenium reaching 5' tall and 2' wide. 2-3" flowers are gold with an orange ring.
Profuse yellow flowers age to orange. Rich chocolate brown centers. Mardi Gras reaches 3-4' tall and 3' wide.
A unique Helenium with mahogany flowers on 2 ½- 4' plants. This beauty may need some staking.
A new compact variety with burgundy flowers and mahogany centers. It reaches 20-30" tall, and has profuse 1 ½" flowers July-September.
Bicolor orange and gold flowers fade to yellow July-September. The flowers are used in the cut flower industry because of their exceptionally sturdy stems.
Large golden yellow flowers and dark centers. Blooms earlier than other varieties from June to August.
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5050 SE Stark, Portland, OR
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Common Name: Helen's Flower, Sneezeweed
Origin: This genus of about 40 herbaceous perennials, annuals and biennials is found mostly in North, Central and South America. H. bigelovii, bolanderi, and hoopseii are native to Oregon.
Culture: Frost hardy, they prefer full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sun), well, drained soil and regular water. Propagate from seed or by division in early spring. Heliniums are hardy in zones 3-9.
Maintenance: Regular removal of spent blooms will prolong flowering. Staking may be required (hot weather promotes tall weak growth). Plants can also be pinched or pruned when growth is six to eight inches tall to encourage more compact plants. Mulching with compost helps keep roots cool and moist in the summer. Dividing the plants every two to three years will help revitalize vigor.
Pest and Disease: Slugs, snails, rust and powdery mildew. If plants have mildew they can be cut by one-half to two-thirds after blooming. This helps deter further outbreaks.