Helenium 

(hell-ee' nee-um)

Common name: Helen's Flower, Sneezeweed

Family: Asteraceae, Aster

Height x width: 3-6' 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)

Flowers: early fall, yellow or reds or orange shades, 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, cut flowers, bees

Other interest: erroneously called sneezeweed sometimes since blooms at same time as ragweed which is the true culprit; mostly common name derives from use of dried leaves by Native Americans and settlers for snuff to cause sneezing (to drive away evil spirits); native to eastern and south central U.S.; named after Helen of Troy; poisonous if ingested--flowers, seeds, leaves contain sesquiterpene lactone which can cause vomiting and convulsions in worst cases.

Other culture: smaller flowers if high night temperatures; best flowering with ample soil moisture; most cultivars require staking; 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

Species:

autumnale (au-tum-nal' ee)--Common Sneezeweed, native to eastern N. America

bigelovii (bi-ge-lo' vee-ii)--Western Sneezeweed, native to western N. America

hoopesii (hoo-pees' ee-ii)--Western Sneezeweed, stem leaves are not decurrent, native to western N. America
 
 

Cultivars: (usually listed of autumnale, but many likely hybrids of several species)

The following are the most common in U.S. commerce.
 
Cultivar flowers height
'Butterpat' yellow 4-5'
'Coppelia' (PP, COPF)* coppery organge (sturdy stems) 3'
'Crimson Beauty' mahogany brown rays, dull brown center 2-3'
'Dark Beauty' bright red, white ray bases 6'
'Dunkle Pracht':'Dark Beauty'  
'Kugelsonne' butter yellow 3-4'
Mardi Gras (PP, COPF, 'Helbro')*  yellow with orange red, summer 3-4'
'Moerheim Beauty' brownish red rays, black center 3-4'
'Pumilum Magnificum' soft yellow 4-5'
'Red and Gold' red and gold 3-4'
'Riverton Beauty' golden yellow rays, bronze center 3-4'
'Rotgold':'Red and Gold'    
'Sun Ball/Sphere':'Kugelsonne'    
'The Bishop'  deep yellow 3'
'Waltraut' golden brown 3'
'Wyndley' coppery brown 2-3'
'Zimbelstern' yellow rays, red and yellow bicolor center 3-4'


*Blooms of Bressingham introduction

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course
.

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