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Sneezeweed has not only an unfortunate but also an inaccurate common name, as it actually does not cause sneezing.

Helenium autumnale.

The botanical name for “sneezeweed” is Helenium, which honors Helen of Troy (which is also unusual as the plants are native to North America).

Our common sneezeweed blooms in the fall, and its full botanical name is Helenium autumnale so is appropriate. It likes plenty of moisture and produces daisy-type flowers where the yellow petals, actually ray florets, surround a brown center of disc florets.

It grows to five feet tall. However, there are some cultivars that stay under three feet, and there are also some that have attractive bronze and red flowers.

Most of the cultivars that have been developed grow well in Zones 3 to 8 and can be pinched to make them more compact. Divide them every three to four years in the spring, and water them well during dry periods.

There is one native variety that is orange: Helenium hoopesii that grows two to three feet tall, and it flowers early- to mid-summer, forming clumps that are two feet wide. So grow that sneezeweed for summer color and some of the fall-blooming yellow and bronze/red sneezeweeds to combine with your fall mums.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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