Perry's Perennial Pages

Helenium autumnale 'Coppelia'

    Perennial of the Month-- September 2001

(hell-ee' nee-um)

Common name: Helen's Flower, Sneezeweed

Family: Asteraceae, Aster

Height x width: 3-4' x 3'

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: alternate, lanceolate to elliptic to 6" long, usually serrate, nearly glabrous, create a winged effect from base clasping and running down stem (decurrent); erect habit

Flowers: early fall, coppery orange, to 2" wide, daisy-like in many-flowered corymbs

Hardiness: zones 3-8

Soil: moist, well-drained

Light: sun

Pests and Problems: leaf spots, rusts, smut, powdery mildew (none serious usually)

Landscape habit, uses: borders in mid to back, cut flowers, bees; great plant for fall color in the garden and this genus should be in all gardens if appropriate to space and design; combines well with asters, goldenrods, backdrop for earlier bloomers

Other interest: erroneously called sneezeweed since blooms at same time as ragweed which is the true culprit; native to eastern and south central U.S.; named after Helen of Troy; this cultivar a recent Blooms of Bressingham America introduction;  originally selected by Alan Bloom from a batch of 1960s seedlings of crosses for its good and different flower color, and its shorter height (90cm or about 3 feet) than most others (120cm or about 4 feet), being one of his favorites

Other culture: smaller flowers if high night temperatures; best flowering with ample soil moisture; this cultivar often does not require staking and being shorter tends not to flop as many others; may need dividing every third year; in south cut back stems 1/3 after flowering; fertilize lightly to avoid spindly growth

Propagation: seeds (not for cultivars), division

Sources: Blooms of Bressingham retailers

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