Oh my, how can it be September already? I’m quite certain that it must be only early July still! The flowers in my garden, however, do attest that late summer has truly arrived. One of the brightest is Helenium autumnale, more commonly known as Sneezeweed.
This is a Helenium from the Mariachi series (perhaps ‘Salsa’), blooming for a second consecutive year in the Terrace Garden. It is rated hardy from USDA Zone 3 – 9. In my Zone 5 garden last year, its first flowers opened before August 15. That seemed too early to me for such autumnal colors, so this year I sought to delay the bloom period by nipping off the earliest buds, much as one can do with Chrysanthemums. The first blooms were indeed delayed, but only by about a week. It blooms for about a month, with the flowers opening a bright orange-red, then fading to orange-yellow. They feature a narrow yellow picotee edge and a brown center cone. The flowers are an inch and a half wide.
The Mariachi series of Helenium forms bushy, well-branched plants. After two years, mine have grown to 28 inches in height and range from 26 to 30 inches in diameter. Nipping the tips as I did may have encouraged the plant to become bushier. Or not. (These pictures show two plants next to each other.)
I would like to say that deer and woodchucks don’t bother Helenium, and that has indeed been true for those in the Terrace Garden. However, last fall I planted ‘Mariachi Fuego’ in the rock garden, and it did get nibbled on early in the season. It seemed to be a one-time occurrence, though, so maybe someone was just tasting something fresh and new? The plant bounced back and is making a small show of itself now:
Sneezeweed likes full sun and has average moisture needs. Bees and other insects love it. As a cut flower, it lasts a long time in a vase–I’ve had some last over ten days. Cutting one thick stem with many branches is a small bouquet in itself!
Finally, in spite of its common name, this flower does not make me sneeze!
Do you have a plant you would like to profile? Feel free to join me each week (well, most weeks!) as I highlight a different plant for Thursday’s Feature!