Brick red flowers, with yellow stitched around the edge, and a mahogany cone centre, make Helenium ‘Mahogany’ star in the autumn garden.
Armloads of autumn flowers when others are failing
Heleniums are invaluable for extending the season of garden colour, because at the end of summer, just when the other flowers are flagging, the Heleniums cheerily bounce up.
So they begin to bloom in late summer, and then continue across autumn with their rich autumnal colours.
Happily they are immune to heat and able to resist autumn tempests with those coned heads and strong, stout stems.
Helenium ‘Wyndley’ is very suitable for windy and exposed gardens.
Commercial quality cut flowers
German and Dutch plant breeders have created many of the new Helenium hybrids especially for commercial cut flower production. Hence they are brilliantly unfading and long lasting in vases.
Trouble free & low maintenance
Heleniums and their owners enjoy a trouble free existence together.
Because they are largely untroubled by any pests and diseases; nothing seems to care to eat them: and the only maintenance is to cut them back after flowering (no hardship if you love armloads of cut flowers to take indoors).
As long as Heleniums have plenty of sunshine, they are not fussy about much else.
And they are obliging in heat, frost, wind, and even poorer soils. Suitable for seaside and exposed gardens.
Gardeners rejoice – Heleniums love clay
Though Heleniums are not fussy about soil, and will grow successfully in anything from sandy soil, through loam, to quite heavy clay, they actually relish clay soil and do even better there.
Growing: Helenium ‘Mahogany’
– Height with flowers: Well branched, strong stems to 80cm. approx, with large flower heads in autumn.
– Width: Evergreen low rosette of foliage, which will slowly increase to a diameter of 45-60cm. approx.
Heleniums grow as a tight, neat foliage rosette, and have no invasive runners.
– Position: Full Sun.
– Soil: Heleniums are not fussy about soil type, and can be grown successfully in soils ranging from sandy, through loam, to quite heavy clay. But unlike many plants, they actually relish clay.
They will also tolerate a range of soil pH, on both the acid and alkaline (lime) side of neutral.
Though they enjoy clay, they do not like to remain waterlogged for long periods, as the crowns may rot.
So the addition of compost will benefit either sandy or clay soils, and make them just to the Helenium’s taste.
– Water-wise: Heleniums are water-wise plants, and so do not require large amounts of water. They are suitable for water-conscious gardeners. However they do like to have some regular drinks. But regular, average garden watering is sufficient.
– Frost hardy: Heleniums are extremely frost hardy, and able to withstand hard frosts to well below -20C.
– Beneficial for wildlife: Bees and butterflies adore Heleniums for nectar and pollen. Especially as the late blooming season provides abundant bee food, after many other flowers have given up from the summer heat.
Then the winter seed heads become a great larder for small seed eating birds, who will sit atop the strong stems and tuck in.
Easy low care
– Growth: Evergreen perennial clump, with the foliage becoming a low, neat rosette over winter, and then rising over summer to make those huge autumn heads. Heleniums are very upright, so they take up very little sideways room.
– Easy Care: Both Heleniums and their gardeners co-exist happily together, with little to no work or problems.
Cutting back the finished flowering stems is about the only work you need to do.And clumps can be divided every few years if you want to share.
– Beware: Helenium autumnale contain a toxin that may cause nausea when ingested in large amounts. Though a human would have to eat a very large quantity (and it is definitely not tasty).
However Helenium should not be planted where horses may graze them.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Those clever deer and rabbits pests seem to know about the nausea causing toxin, and leave it alone.
Helenium does not make you sneeze
– Mistaken identity: Heleniums are often called “Sneezeweed”, to the alarm of hayfever sufferers.
However it is a case of mistaken identity. Because Heleniums gained the common name of “Sneezeweed” when they were popular amongst First Nation Americans for making snuff, not because they make you sneeze with allergy.
– Fragrance: Sadly no scent, but brilliant cut flowers instead.
– Origin: Helenium autumnale is found wild from the cold of Canada to the heat of California. Hence the natural hardiness and adaptability of Heleniums.
The flower that launched a thousand ships:
Beautiful Helen of Troy is the source of the botanical name “Helenium”.
Because Helenium plants sprang from the ground where Helen’s tears fell, according to Greek legends.
Legends tell that Helen had caused the Trojan Wars with a decade long fling with handsome hero Paris.
She wept bucket loads of tears at the feet of her avenging husband, after an armada of a thousand ships.
So that’s why there are so many beautiful Heleniums.