Growing Helenium is like the old days. Do you remember stories from your parents that started that way? You know the ones I mean. In the old days, we had to walk to school. Usually through blinding blizzards, flooded fields while fighting off vicious attacks from massed Fenian irregulars. In the old days, we had to cut our meat from the living flanks of dinosaurs before they noticed. In the old days, things were tough; or at least a lot tougher than you soft young kids had it now. Dinosaurs indeed.
In the Old Days
In the old days, I would never consider growing Helenium or Sneezeweed in my garden. But then a nursery sent me a trial plant and it has just bloomed. OK, so maybe it isn’t a dinosaur and maybe I have to take a good look at this family of plants because this Helenium ‘Chelsey’ daisy is very attractive with its burnt orange, crimson and yellow bicoloured petals and dark eye.
With a spread of twelve inches, Helenium ‘Chelsey’ is a restrained plant. At least it has been this year; we’ll see what it colonizes out to next year.
Full sun, and although you might squeeze by with a bit of morning shade, it is really a good idea to give as much light as you like.
The big key to success with Helenium or Sneezeweed is providing it with adequate moisture. This plant likes wet soils; no, this plant demands them if you want to succeed with it.
It will not grow well with dry soils and tends to winterkill. I know that these daisy type plants often demand a bit of dry conditions to thrive but this is not one of them.
It is rated a USDA zone 4 and blooming starting now in July and running through August with those amazing bright colours.
- ‘Coppelia’ has yellow to bronze petals with chestnut brown center eyes.
- ‘Kanaria’ is pure yellow with broad grey-green leaves and both of these varieties are 36 inches tall.
- ‘Moerheim Beauty’ has burned orange flowers that are attractive even as they fade but it is listed as 48 inches tall.
- Something a little on the weird side is ‘Autumn Lollipop’ that almost has no petals at all on the flower (they’re tiny) but looks like a big brown flower centre that turns yellow when mature.
- ‘Bruno’ has deep crimson mahogany flowers on brown centres and is a 48 inch tall plant.
- And if you like the old Helenium varieties, you might search out, ‘Flammenspiel’ or ‘Dancing Flames’ (same plant) with its flame-orange blooms that age to yellow.
- If you’re looking for a shorter Helenium, you might search out ‘The Bishop’ with its deep golden-yellow flowers, clumping growth and earlier bloomtime. It only grows 24 to 36 inches tall depending on location and how much you feed it.
- And finally, if you can find a Helenium ‘Chelsey’, I’m told that a part of the licensing fee (it is a patented plant) goes to the Red Cross Disaster Fund in memory of British journalist Terry Lloyd who was killed in Iraq. This is a great plant and a great reason to buy it. And that’s not in the old days.