Right now I’m liking the Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’ blooming in the Lamp Post Bed. This is a cultivar of the native Helenium autumnale, also known as Sneezeweed. As a general rule I plant straight species native plants, but now and then I feel like something different. This is one of those times.

Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’

It’s just that at this time of year I’d like a bit more in the red-orange color range, and there are a number of Helenium cultivars that fit the bill. Sneezeweed is yellow, thought it does have an unusual shape.

Photo from Prairiemoon.com

People familiar with my garden know that I have many, many, many yellow native wildflowers – what some botanists call the DYCs (Damn Yellow Composites) – Rudbeckias, Silphiums, Ratibidas, Coreopsis, etc. So I feel I’ve done my bit on that front.

Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower)

We used to have a Helenium cultivar called ‘Short’n’Sassy’. It had orange flowers that bloomed for months, starting in June. Sadly it was short-lived. ‘Mardi Gras’ is more typical of Heleniums in that it starts blooming in late summer and into fall, but it also has been more durable.

Helenium ‘Short’n’Sassy’

Soon the blue-purple of the former asters will make themselves felt, and I am looking forward to that. But even then, I’d like some color contrast in addition to the yellow of the Goldenrods. Of course, this is one reason why I grow Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) with its deep orange daisies. But the Heleniums provide a touch of red-orange more at mid-height.

Anyhow, as I peruse the online catalogs, that’s why I keep going back to various Helenium cultivars. Do you grow Heleniums in your garden? Do they make you happy?

50 Comments on “I Want More Helenium”

  1. I do not grow it, but I admire it. (I can say that about a lot of things!) I think the colors are perfect for this season but really nothing beats that Mexican sunflower. I don’t grow that either but some day I will and it’s because I’ve seen it in your posts. It’s glorious!

  2. I think you solved our garden mystery. He throws the plant sticks away and sometimes I’m lost. We have a great bunch that was beautiful and reminded us of zinnias, but now fading as fall came on. There were reds, yellows oranges-they are a wonderful happy “flavor” to the garden. Thanks for solving…we’ll go with the Helenium name rather than Sneezeweed.

  3. More Helenium? Me Too! I love this plant, maybe because it’s been very reliable for me, and feel it is underused. Not sure of the cultivar I grow but it’s short and sweet and provide that yellow to rust range of color that I look for.

  4. We had the native helenium, more in the yellow range, growing for years in the herb garden where I volunteer. It was great because of the late summer bloom.it went by the wayside when the garden was renovated. I’ll have to look into the cultivars. Thanks for reminding me!

  5. I don’t have any heleniums but they are on the list for the front garden, where I am placing more of the “hot” colours. The plant in that colour range that I’m really loving this year is Gaillardia. It has been blooming nonstop since early summer – I believe the variety is Arizona Red Shades and I grew it from seed last year. It forms a mound & is just covered with flowers and then seed heads. There are still some blooms on it and another self-seeded mound that came up this year bloomed later and is still in full flower mode.

  6. I’m still laughing at my misreading of your title. I thought at first it said, “I want more helium.” All things considered, that might be just the thing to make 2020 more bearable! I love the Helenium. We have several native species — at least a half dozen — and one of them, purpleheaded sneezeweed (H. flexuosum) is one of my favorites. I’ll have to dig out some photos to post; it’s a plant I’ve not yet shown in my blog, and it is delightful.

  7. I do indeed, and I love them. They make me happy! Something about their cute size and shape, I think. I grow the straight species but am interested in your cultivar. It is really pretty and I know what you mean~sometimes you just want a little orange out there and so many orange flowers don’t seem to live long. I’m glad to hear this one does.

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