How to grow Helenium
Ask anyone if he knows sneezeweed and chances are that he can’t place it. But tell him about the splendid helenium or Helens flower you had last fall and you have his sympathetic ear.
Yet few appreciate its true value for gardens acid for cutting. Like quite a few other flowers native to North America, it is held with higher esteem abroad than in its native country.
Give the plants a sunny, well-drained position, and they’ll develop into good-sized clumps 3 to 6 feet high depending upon the species or variety planted.
Any good garden soil is suited to their culture, and where conditions are congenial, they not only last for years but increase by forming new, vigorous crowns all around the original mother plants: English gardeners who give it a foremost place among the hardy fall-flowering perennials water the plants at 10-day intervals with a solution of 1/2 ounce sulfate of potash in 1 gallon of water: This prevents the flower petals from drooping. In some sections, a little black-snout beetle goes after the growing tips and young flower buds. Repeated spraying with a contact insecticide to which has been added a little nicotine sulfate to serve as a repellent keeps these pesky little creatures in check.
Once planted, helenium may remain for several years in the same position. Though well satisfied with average soil fertility, they respond freely to good treatment. A little complete plant food worked around the plants, as new spring growth gets underway is very helpful. Dividing and replanting in spring may become essential every third year to rejuvenate the clumps. Set the crowns even with the soil level and firm the roots well. Follow with a good watering, and the plants will continue to grow without any further attention.
Staking the taller sorts is essential, despite the fact that the stems are woody. Use several stakes about one-half the total height of the plants so that the tops can sway freely.
American gardeners prefer the variety Moerheimi Beauty because the bronzy red ray petals shading to orange at the tips are strikingly different from any other flowers that share its blooming season in August and September: The compact habit allows us to enjoy the flowers by looking down upon the 2- to 3-foot plants.
Autumnale rubrum, bronzy red, and Autumnale superbum, sunflower-yellow, are taller favorites for the background,
Riverton Beauty is an early fall bloomer 4 feet tall. The flowers are unique in color in that they combine lemon-yellow ray petals, with a black center. Riverton Gem bears old gold and terracotta flowers, which change to a stunning wallflower red.