Photo: Kingsbrae Garden
Helenium is a plant that was apparently named for Helen of Troy, so some plant collector must have been a classicist at heart as it is a native of North and Central America.
Unfortunately its common name is sneezyweed, which is unfair as well as misleading as the plants do not cause sneezing.
However, they are not perfectly innocent as they can cause skin reactions, as well as being poisonous if eaten.
In Your Garden
They like full sun and rich evenly moist but well-drained soil. They should be pinched to keep them compact and divided frequently.
Their late summer daisy-like flower heads come in shades of yellow, orange bronze and red. In the wild they are found along the edges of woodland areas, and they propagate easily from seed.
The common Sneezyweed ranges from 2-5 feet tall and forms 2-3 feet wide clumps. However there are cultivars that are under 3 feet, and these include ones such as ‘Butterpat’ and ‘Crimson Beauty’ in zones 3-8.
These are excellent native perennials to add variety in the late summer garden and their colors make a good segue into fall.