I am moving all of my “Favorite Plant” posts over here this week, because it is getting to be time to get some seeds started, and you need to do some planning for that. They appeared on the old blog in their respective growing seasons, and future posts in this series will do the same, but the ones I’m moving over [transplanting!] will be done, as transplanting often is, in a clump.
Such an inelegant name for a plant that is a pleasing work horse backbone in the garden in late summer. Sneezeweed is a common, old-timey sort of name – Helenium is the proper name for them. Apparently, at one time the leaves were dried and then used as snuff. The resulting sneezing was thought to expel evil spirits. And sneezing is a rush, right? We should all do more of it, so plant lots of Heleniums! A lack of sneezing is not a problem for me this time of year – my allergies ensure I have no buildup of evil spirits, assuming that sneezing in fact, does dislodge them.
So, I think I will just enjoy the flowers – and there is so much to enjoy about them. To begin with – they are very easy to start from seed, which is always a nice money saver, not to mention, satisfying. You can get more varieties that way as well, because most garden centers only carry one or two cultivars. Even started plants are generally pretty inexpensive though. For the most part, they get nice and tall – in the 3 to 5 feet range, though there are some shorter varieties. The majority of them bloom in August through October here in Upstate NY, with some cultivars starting in July.And the colors! Yum – all yellows, oranges and reds with every sort of combination and shade you can think of. They are perfect for my mostly red/yellow/orange daylily bed because the form offers a nice contrast while the daylilies are in bloom, and most of the ones I have start blooming around the end of when we are seeing flowers on the lilies. Helenium does have to be divided to stay vigorous. In my garden, after about 3 years, the centers of the plants start to thin out, so it is best to dig them up and replant. This should be done in the spring, as newly divided plants would have a hard time making it through the winter. I killed a few plants before I ran across this info online, so I avoid fall dividing now. Helenium are not subject to much in the way of pests or diseases, but they do like plenty of sun and water to look their best. Here is a nice website in the UK with plenty of good info: HeleniumsI always look forward to seeing them because knowing they’ll be blooming through the fall makes it a little easier to say farewell to summer. They also make some pretty fantastic photos at a time of year when most of the garden is looking a little like it stayed too long at a party. They usually stay fresh and vibrant right up until the frost gets them.If you don’t have the means to start some seeds yourself, you may find them in local plant nurseries [though not nearly enough in my opinion], or online, which is where I have gotten the majority of mine. One of my favorite sources is Lazy S’s Farm – scroll down the page a bit to find the varieties they offer.